Campus Theatre has new executive director

May 17—LEWISBURG — Someone should make sure Laura Knorr is not dreaming.

Knorr, of Berwick, is the new executive director of the historic Campus Theatre, at 413 Market St., Lewisburg. Knorr, who spent nearly seven years as the executive director of the Berwick Theater and Center for Community Arts, is a former art teacher and illustrator for children's books.

"I love film as much as I love art," said Knorr. "Being able to do what you love for a living? Pinch me."

The public is invited to meet with Knorr on May 29 in a special mingle and movie night. Doors open at 6 p.m. followed by a free showing at 7 p.m. of one of Knorr's favorite films "The Long, Long Trailer" featuring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

Knorr replaces Scotta Magnelli, who served in the role for the nonprofit organization for five years.

Movie theaters are "a very unique experience," said Knorr. "It's important for the generations who know what it felt like to go the movies to take the younger generation. The smell of the popcorn when you walk in the door, the color palette, the sound. It's a full-on experience. It represents the past."

The Campus Theatre was built in 1941 by Russian immigrants Oscar, Harold, Barney, and Morris Stiefel. In the summer of 2001, Jacquie Stiefel sold The Campus to a Bucknell University film professor who in turn, started a non-profit organization, The Campus Theatre Ltd., according to materials from the Union County Historical Society and Bucknell University.

In 2006, the university provided Campus Theatre Ltd. with a no-interest loan to purchase the building from its previous owner. In 2011, the university purchased the theater, but oversight and management remained with the non-profit, according to materials from the Union County Historical Society and Bucknell University.

Knorr, a graduate of Bloomsburg Area High School, earned her Bachelor's of Fine Arts and Illustration from the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., in 1996. She illustrated children's books for 10 years while living in Georgia before moving back to the Berwick area to work as an art teacher at Holy Family School in Berwick and St. Joseph School in Danville.

When the position became available for the Berwick Theatre in 2017, it was almost serendipitous. It was the same theater where, at age 5, she saw her first movie: a re-showing of Disney's "Pinocchio."

"It was raining, and I was so excited to go see it," she said.

Hired as the executive director at the single-screen Berwick Theater in 2017, she oversaw the facility as it transitioned into a nonprofit and experienced extensive renovations due to roof and ceiling damage. At the time, she had never been an executive director nor worked for a nonprofit.

"Everything I learned there led me to this," said Knorr of the Campus Theatre. "It prepared me to be here. I'm very grateful for that."

When a friend told her about the Campus Theatre opening, Knorr said it was an opportunity that she couldn't pass up.

"The theater itself is stunning, and it's historic," she said. "I have always loved old theaters and I'm a huge classic film buff. It's a gem. It needs to be known on a national level. It's tucked away. We're so lucky to have places like this. We need to share it with as many people as possible."

Knorr said she is looking forward to continuing all the great things already in place at the Campus. She hopes to build on the current programming, incorporate other events, make use of unused space for a maker space or pop-up events, collaborate with local businesses or residents, have a presence in community events and get the word out about the theater.

Lori Wilson, the treasurer of the board, said Knorr is a great fit for the Campus Theatre.

"Because of her love and enthusiasm, we're so excited for Laura to come and work at the beautiful theater," said Wilson.