About the Magic Lantern Theater

In 1999, a handful of local movie-lovers had a challenging idea: to bring quality film to Old Town Winchester. They established themselves as a non-profit group – Springboard Cultural Arts – and the Magic Lantern Theater project was born. Springboard Cultural Arts is a wholy volunteer, federal tax-exempt organization under Section (501)(c)(3).

Magic Lantern screened its first film in 2001. As Robert Frost might say, the theater has been like ice on a hot stove, skating on its own steam ever since. It has become a fixture of downtown and area cultural life with over 250 dues-paying members, individual and business. Currently, we show one or two feature-length films a month. Our aim is to provide a variety of film experiences to the community of the Winchester area while enhancing the life of the city’s historic downtown. This can mean giving contemporary Oscar winners their Winchester big screen premieres; bringing neighbors together for outdoor family shows; partnering with other local community groups, and, on occasion, supporting regional filmmakers and videographers.

We believe that, even in this day of Netflix and Blockbusters, there is still a market for fine and varied cinema seen on a large screen with an audience of fellow film enthusiasts. To carry out this mission as a community-based, wholly volunteer organization, we rely on our membership and cooperating businesses for financial and volunteer support.

Click on How You Can Help to learn more about opportunities in these areas.

What exactly is a magic lantern?


A precursor of the modern slide projector, magic lanterns came into popular use in Victorian Britain. They contained a simple optical system with a source of light, a glass containing a painted image, and a system of lenses used to focus the image onto a screen.

Our theater’s technology is much more advanced, but our name is a nod to this legacy.

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