Friday, June 2, 2023

Downing Film Center at Newburgh Waterfront Set to Close

After serving the community for nearly 17 years, the Downing Film Center at the Newburgh Waterfront announced it will be permanently closing next month.

Since July 2006, the Downing Film Center has provided quality film programming and worked with community groups to enhance their programs through film. For two retired educators, Sharon and Brian Burke, it has been a dream come true.

Sharon and Brian Burke founded the Downing Film Center with their son Kevin. It specializes in small box office independent films that rarely come to local multiplexes. They also offer foreign and classic films, as well as documentaries. The film center features freshly made popcorn fresh, coffees, teas, soft drinks, traditional movie candy, fine chocolates, Zora Dora frozen treats, and freshly baked goods. The prices are considerably less than one would pay at a local multiplex theater.

The Burke family will close the doors for good on April 27, 2023. Tickets are still on sale for remaining shows almost daily until then (Visit the Downing Film Center’s webpage here).

Mrs. Burke was a longtime popular teacher at Temple Hill School in the Newburgh Enlarged City School District. Mr. Burke was a longtime renowned principal at the Cornwall High School. After their retirements from educating the area’s youth, they opened the Downing Film Center.

Loyal patrons have supported the film center since they opened and were crucial to its memorable Drive to Digital fundraising effort in 2012. The patrons also supported the film center during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We are fortunate to have made so many friends through a shared passion for cinema and to have enjoyed such extraordinary support through the years from our devoted employees, generous volunteers, donors, members, and fans,” the Burke family wrote in a prepared statement.

“Regrettably, changes of all kinds brought about through the passage of time have now made our operational model unsustainable. We will be turning our projector off and closing our doors for the last time at the conclusion of our showings on Thursday, April 27, 2023. We wish all of our friends the enjoyment of quality films in the future and wonderful venues in which to experience them.”

The Downing Film Center received rave reviews from the public during its longtime presence at the Newburgh Waterfront.

“Always a warm hello and appreciation from staff,” wrote Lois Whitaker in a Facebook review, who called it “a lovely gem in Newburgh.”

“The owners are so welcoming and they make fresh popcorn!” added Jodi Cummings.

Fans on the popular review site Yelp rated it with 4.5 stars out of a possible five.

Dwayne A. explained on Yelp, “Prior to the film starting, one of the retired teachers came in and welcomed and thanked everyone for coming out and singled out those who are financial supporters of the Downing Film Center.”

Jordan W. noted, “It’s a great little spot to see a movie. The chairs are comfy, the atmosphere is cozy, and they have a nice variety of snacks and drinks.”

Fans on Google Reviews also rated it with 4.5 stars out of a possible five.

“Brian and Sharon greet us like old friends and thoroughly enjoy discussing the featured movie or any topics that come up,” wrote Donna McCarthy.

Alyse Matsil observed, “I don’t remember ever being disappointed.”

“I absolutely adore this place,” declared Rebecca Ramirez.

Any fans who have purchased memberships from January 1, 2023, through our closing date will be able to request a refund if they wish to do so. Requests with fans’ names and e-mail addresses should be sent to

The Burkes thanked all of their patrons “so much” for their support. “We are grateful to have been part of your lives.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Downing Film Center has provided a safe and family-friendly environment for the community for nearly 17 years. The Newburgh News, LLC commends the entire Burke family for all of their years of hard work and positive efforts. We wish Sharon and Brian Burke the best in their second retirements.

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