Art house returns: The Onyx reopens its doors for screenings, private rentals in October

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It was the decision of half a dozen entertainment organizations to require proof of vaccination or a negative test to attend events at their venue, which paved the way for the reopening of small stages and homes. art safely. After an 18-month closure, one of those venues, The Onyx, is slated to reopen on Friday, October 1 with private rentals and limited seating. General admission screenings are expected to open a week later.

Onyx CEO Celine Negrete explained that Onyx is an arthouse as opposed to a larger, mainstream theater. “The art houses show independent films, in foreign languages, documentaries… while the general public refers to the main Hollywood studios like Disney, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Universal, those who broadcast Hollywood films. Art houses tend to be smaller because they show movies that don’t have that Hollywood dollar behind them. Of course, there are crossover films that are shown in both types of places.

There has been an arthouse theater in the Nevada City area for over twenty-five years. The Onyx is a continuation of The Magic Theater under a new name. A massive remodel completed in 2018 doubled capacity, offering two separate screens, each with less than 30 seats. The Magic is now the name of one of the screening rooms. According to Negrete, the theater remains a local mainstay as the owner enjoys independent cinema.



“Jeff Clark bought The Magic in 2001 because he didn’t want it to close. And he’s an art cinema lover and really felt it was important that Nevada City continue to have an arthouse cinema here. It’s actually quite rare for a small rural town our size to have their own arthouse theater. It’s here because Jeff made a commitment to make it available to residents of Nevada City and Grass Valley. He really is the reason he’s here.

People seem to love the intimate little house experience, which includes a stellar snack bar that offers wine, beer, organic popcorn, and real butter! Customers must be 21 years old to participate.



While trying to find a way to reopen, management decided to offer private rentals earlier this year, which has been extremely popular. “Within 48 hours of announcing our first round of private rentals, we had twice as many responses as available rentals,” explained Negrete. “Other art houses had gone into private rental for a year and a half in order to have a source of income, even if they could not be fully opened, and we finally found the time and we have the staff. to do it, that’s when we tried.

Given the popularity of private rentals, staff dedicate a screen three times a day, seven days a week for $ 100 with a limit of eight clients per rental. “We will have ten films to choose from,” Negrete said of the rental. The new options will be listed on their website where people can book the space and select their movie.

Security protocols will be in place, with a third party capacity in private and public theaters. “We will require proof of vaccination for public screenings and private rentals will require proof of vaccination or a negative test within the past 48 hours. We have added the option of a negative test so that people who are not vaccinated, for whatever reason, still have the opportunity to come and see a movie. Adding public safety is a major concern, private rentals have the secondary option because those renting the space are with people they know (presumably). “In private rentals you choose to be with these people, but in general projections it’s different. You are sitting with strangers, and we want to be able to attest that everyone in this room with you has shown that they are fully immunized. All staff will be masked and customers will be required to wear masks unless actively eating or drinking.

Limiting the audience to just nine clients at a time is certainly not a positive model for the money, but Negrete said they were just happy to be able to see people again enjoying the theater. “We have been closed for 18 months, apart from this little bit of private rentals. We needed a way to start moving forward. Honestly, it was the announcement of the six live sites requiring vaccination that gave us the opportunity to be open. It was more expensive to be open than closed but we had to go. We appreciated that they came forward and took this position. It made us feel more comfortable following these protocols.

Theater management asked customers what security measures they were most interested in if they were to reopen and masks were at the top of the list, with only people fully vaccinated during screenings. Customers of The Onyx tend to be older and at higher risk. The protocols have therefore been put in place as a security measure.

Management will review the protocols on a monthly basis. Negrete said they would see how it turned out, saying they were just happy to be able to reopen, even in this limited fashion. She found that the staff failed to interact with the public. “Clearly, these are the people coming in (who we miss). Interactions that happen after movies where people want to tell us about what they just saw. I love cinema so being able to have this place where people can come and be moved or touched and then share their excitement or emotion with us in that space is something that we all really miss at the theater.

For a list of movies and private rentals available as well as the upcoming public offering, visit http://www.theonyxtheatre.com.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can listen to his episodes on https://www.buzzspout.com/1332253. She can be contacted at [email protected]

After an 18-month closure, one of those venues, The Onyx, is slated to reopen on Friday, October 1 with private rentals and limited seating. General admission screenings are expected to open a week later.
Photo by Kat Alves Photography
Given the popularity of private rentals, staff dedicate a screen three times a day, seven days a week for $ 100 with a limit of eight clients per rental.
Photo by Kat Alves Photography
For a list of movies and private rentals available as well as the upcoming public offering, visit http://www.theonyxtheatre.com.
Photo by Kat Alves Photography


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