Fifty Years Of The Cinema Arts Centre In Huntington

The Cinema Arts Centre is a place at 423 Park Ave. in Huntington where you can watch classic movies on the big screen among fellow cinema fans. And it has been providing these cinematic experiences for 50 years.
“The Cinema Arts Centre, which was originally the New Community Cinema, had its first program on Dec. 1, 1973,” said Dylan Skolnick, the co-director of the Cinema Arts Centre. “How it came about was the founders Vic Skolnick and Charlotte Sky [with their son Dylan Skolnick] moved from New York City to Huntington and it was a very different time. You had to picture there was very little opportunities to see movies. There was no home video, there was no cable TV, no internet, no streaming. The only ways to see movies was there was some movie theaters near that played the new Hollywood films and there were a handful of TV channels.”
Coming from New York City, where there was a rich film culture where you could see new and old movies alike at local theaters, Vic Skolnick and Sky decided to take their frustration of not having their cinematic needs met and create their own theaters, inspired by the ones they used to attend in the city.
“They rented a dance studio, the New Circle Dance Studio, and borrowed a projector, a 16MM projector, and a movie from the library, and drew up some flyers by hand and had them copied, put them around,” Skolnick said. “People had to bring their own chairs. And people liked it. They started coming. It was only once or twice a week.”
With increasing popularity, and a request to add more showings, Vic Skolnick and Sky had to find a permanent home for their movie showings. First, they moved to an old firehouse in Huntington, which is now the Classic Galleries Furniture Store, and they set up their first movie-showing space. Eventually, they ended up showing movies seven days a week.
“That went on for several years at that location,” Skolnick said. “It was on the second floor there… Then there were issues that meant we had to relocate. And for assorted reasons, the Town of Huntington wanted to help us find a new home for the cinema, and this location here, 423 Park Ave., is a former elementary school.”
The town had originally purchased that property, and before the Cinema Arts Centre took it over it had been a place where teenagers enjoyed vandalizing.
“That was the late ‘70s and we’ve been here ever since. We’ve done a lot of work on the place; renovations, expansion,” Skolnick said. “Now we have state of the art projectors and theater seats, and the building is very active now. The town makes use of the rest of the building.”
The Cinema Arts Centre is Long Island’s leading arthouse cinema, as it shows a variety of films from King Kong (1933) and American Psycho to The Room, a cult classic that has been dubbed “the worst movie ever made.”
And the Cinema Arts Centre means so much more to customers than just going and seeing a movie. It’s a communal experience where people can hang out in the cafe that’s there. The Cinema Arts Centre also holds a lot of special events where discussion is encouraged.
“Our mission is to bring the best of new, old, American, international [films] to our audience and using those films to bring people together,” Skolnick said.
Visit for more information about the Cinema Art Centre and to see movie times.

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