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Arts & Culture

Digital Gym Cinema Will Reopen At New Downtown Location

Digital Gym Cinema's new location will be at the UC San Diego @ Park and Market building, which is currently under construction. June 23, 2021
Beth Accomando
Digital Gym Cinema's new location will be at the UC San Diego @ Park and Market building, which is currently under construction. June 23, 2021

Micro Cinema is part of new UC San Diego at Park and Market building

Media Arts Center’s Digital Gym Cinema left its space on El Cajon Boulevard last August and moved all its film programming online because of COVID-19. But during this down time they have been prepping a new space in conjunction with UC San Diego that will open in late fall.

KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando, who has programmed films at Digital Gym, took a tour of the construction site last month to provide this preview.

Previewing The New Digital Gym

BETH ACCOMANDO: This is pretty exciting. Moises, we are entering what's going to be the new Digital Gym Cinema. Of course, we entered through the out door. That's not going to be where people come in.

MOISES ESPARZA: Digital Gym Cinema exhibitions director: Yeah, it's the emergency exit, but we have to do it because we're under construction for the time being.

BA: This is the new digital gym cinema. So where is it?

ME: It's in downtown San Diego, the intersection of Park Avenue and Market Street. And we're just really excited by this entire project. We used to be on El Cajon Boulevard that was digital, our cinema's former home. And now we're here downtown, and I'm just beyond elated. I mean, as you can see, it's all under construction.

BA: So this is going to be the screen?

ME: Yeah. This is going to be the screen. The speakers will be up. It's going to be kind of like floor-to-ceiling screen. It'll be really kind of state-of-the-art facility. I never thought that I'd be able to see and assist with the development of a cinema space. It's really a dream come true. It'll be about 66 seats, which is an increase of seats from our former space. If you remember, at the former space, we had an awkward entrance. I would enter at the front of the screen, but this time you're going to be entering through the rear. So the image quality will not be interrupted by blinding lights. So we're definitely improving what we used to have. But we're going to honor the type of programming that we used to have former space here.

BA: And you're also getting an upgrade on on all sorts of levels because you're going to have a new lobby space. This is a four-story building where there's going to be other event spaces as well. So how is all that?

ME: We're going to have great concessions and lobby space that can activate with special events. The building is just going to have all sorts of amenities that will allow us to not only program events here in the cinema, but in the different sort of other communal space activated to us are available to us. And then our offices are actually going to be in the same building, and there's going to be a great circle or stairwell leading into the space. So it's going to be such a great kind of introduction to our space for people who are seeing it for the first time.

BA: I'm really excited by this. Just walking around the construction sight, things are not finished, but you can see a lot of nice design elements going on.

ME: Yeah, they're really going to be extraordinary. The design elements ... it's a circular space. It's going to be really aesthetically pleasing, and there's going to be activation on the wall yourself. So it's going to feel like a very interactive space. And, again, just thrilled to be in such a beautifully designed building.

BA: I know some people may be a little concerned about moving downtown because parking is always an issue, but you have some public transit benefits.

ME: Yeah. I mean, the trolley station is not even a block away. It's super close to the new UCSD building, so people can access the public transfer it if it's not the trolley, the bus. Also, we're around several parking structures that are available to our customers.

The new Digital Gym Cinema is scheduled to open in late October at the UC San Diego at the Park and Market building, which will also provide office space, galleries and a versatile 200-plus seat venue.