OAKLAND -- What goes around is coming back around this month, with the kickoff of Karma Cinema Month at The New Parkway Theater.
During August, patrons of the Parkway, now located in Oakland's Uptown District, will be able to pay what they want for movie tickets. Then, 30 percent of gross tickets sales will be donated to four local nonprofit organizations.
The "Karma Partners" include Alameda County Community Food Bank, College Track, Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and Hopalong Animal Rescue. Each partner will be the subject of a one-minute video that will play during movie previews. Moviegoers will watch and mark a ballot to select which group they wanr ro received the money.
The New Parkway Theater, formerly located on Park Avenue near Lake Merritt, had closed in 2009, due to the worsening economy. The theater was known for the pizza, beer, love seats, second-run movies and the Baby Brigade movie night for parents and babies. Even ahead of the baby night, the theater included a "crying room," the first in the city, a soundproof glass enclosure for parents with noisy infants.
Although the theater is now under new management, food and local beer and wine are still offered and the theater took "all of the wonderful things" from the old theater and brought them to the new location, said J Moses Ceaser, general manager at The New Parkway Theater.
Ceaser said the motivation for Karma Cinema Month comes from Karma Kitchen in Berkeley, a restaurant with no prices on the menu because someone else paid for the meal for the customer. He said the theater is already unique, but this will further help set it apart.
"We love the idea that each night at the theater folks will come and be as generous as they're able to," Ceaser said. "I hope that this takes off."
Not only will customers decide what to pay for their tickets, they will also receive gifts from the theater throughout the month, such as a free popcorn for a day. The goal is to create a cycle of generosity and to push that outward into the community, said Patti Lew, marketing consultant for The New Parkway Theater.
"We're very excited about Karma Cinema," said Itzy Gutierrez, development and communications associate for College Track. "It's going to give us quite a bit of exposure. Hopefully, College Track becomes a household name."
College Track is a college completion program that targets underserved communities, where there is usually an education gap. The program receives about 80 percent of its funds through individual donors and Karma Cinema Month will help add to the money coming in.
Although this is the first time Karma Cinema Month is taking place at the theater, Lew said it most likely won't be the last.
"We hope Karma Cinema Month actually turns out to be more than just a month," Lew said. "We hope it grows and is successful and that we can continue it throughout the year."