We Buy Black and SheaMoisture have teamed up to bring the culture the Black Business Relief Fund. After reviewing 3588 applications carefully, we have settled on 20 awardees, each awarded a $5,000 grant. The 15th business is Stuart Cinema & Cafe, an excellent business that is totally worthy of this honor.
Stuart Cinema & Cafe features motion pictures and independent films, at affordable prices. The company bears the distinction of being the first movie theater in New York owned by a Black Latina. Stuart Cinema was opened to helped filmmakers and other artists monetize their art, in a world where spaces for independent artists are quickly disappearing. In addition, Stuart Cinema also features a cafe with a full menu, well beyond popcorn: from salads and sandwiches, to chicken fingers and espresso, there is something for everyone. Stuart Cinema provides an affordable space for film festivals, independent movie screenings and serves as a community center.
Emelyn Stuart opened her theater without any partners, loans or investors. Since opening, several popular shows have used the space: Orange is the New Black, Billions and Ray Donavan. In addition, several celebrities have watched movies at the theater, including Hill Harper, Malik Yoba and Jon Voight. Stuart Cinema has been received warmly by the community and has plans to expand and add a second movie screen. On March 16th, however, everything changed: COVID-19 forced the theater to shutdown. In addition, the owner has been forced to layoff her three employees. Stuart is doing all she can to hang on: the theater is giving popcorn to kids for free and giving a free movie ticket to patrons who purchase a large popcorn, in anticipation of the theater opening back up.
Thanks to We Buy Black and SheaMoisture, Stuart Cinema has been granted some relief, in the form of the Black Business Relief Fund. It’s still unclear when theaters will be allowed to reopen but one thing is certain: Stuart Cinema will be there.