‘More than just a film festival’

Brian Ditchfield, right, shown here at the drive-in at MV Arena, has introduced an umbrella organization for the arts. — MVTimes

The Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival is taking all the elements that make it such an essential resource for the Island community and combining them under one umbrella organization — Circuit Arts. 

Over the years, the Film Festival has grown into a major Island institution that not only provides entertainment to locals and visitors year-round, but offers enriching educational programming for Island students, and much more. Now, according to a press release, Circuit Arts will integrate the annual film festival, the film production company, and the broad range of arts and education programs at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury and in Island schools.

“We want to clearly communicate that we are more than just a film festival. We also make movies, teach filmmaking and storytelling in the schools, and our new home at the Grange will allow us to share film as well as other art forms,” said Brian Ditchfield, executive director of Circuit Arts, in the release. “We want to bring diverse communities together, to lift stories and voices that matter to our Island and our world. That idea drew us to the word circuit. Circuits transmit energy and signal movement. Circuits connect.” 

The film festival remains the organization’s signature event, and will return in-person May 18 through 22, after two years of being virtual. 

This event, along with the Drive-In at the YMCA, Cinema Circus, their film production company, educational programs, and screenings around the Island, will all continue under the banner of Circuit Arts. It will also operate throughout the year at the new venue at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, and will host events at Union Chapel in Oak Bluffs and other venues that have become available through its partnership with the Vineyard Preservation Trust, according to the release.

Circuit Arts plans to start programming in the historic theater at the Grange Hall in May, and will continue through October with a broad range of programs, including film, theater, music, and education. It is working with local arts organizations like Island Theater Workshop, Built on Stilts, and MVY Radio to make the Grange a home for multidisciplinary arts programming. “Circuit Arts expresses our commitment to serve a broader audience and offer a broader set of creative and artistic programming,” Ditchfield said in the release. 

“Chilmark has been a great home for the film festivals, and we will continue to offer programming there,” said James Warner, president of the parent company’s board, in the release. “But we want to serve all communities on Martha’s Vineyard, so we’re expanding our reach beyond Chilmark and beyond film,” he continued. Circuit Arts’ film production company will now be called Circuit Films. It is finishing part one of its docu-series on the health of Great Ponds, and just completed films for Island Housing Trust and the Coalition to Create the MV Housing Bank addressing the housing crisis on Martha’s Vineyard. The education department is making 10 short films with third grade classrooms around the Island, creating music videos with the Island’s disability community, and working with the high school’s A/V Club. “Our new name and new venue are just the first step of our new journey,” said Ditchfield. “We’re excited to welcome everyone to our space in the Grange, partner with many of the amazing arts organizations on the Island, and expand our role in strengthening and building community through the arts.”