The Austin Film Society laid off a third of its permanent staff and all of its hourly workers at the AFS Cinema on March 23, the Austin nonprofit said in a statement released Tuesday.


AFS management also has been furloughed one day per week. The measures come after the cinema shut its doors, one of many venues to take similar actions to stem the tide of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.


"Given the level of threat the COVID-19 crisis poses to our organization and filmmaking community," AFS CEO Rebecca Campbell said in the statement, "I’ve worked with my staff to make some sweeping changes to our programs and operations, so that AFS can survive this period and thrive in the long run."


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In addition to the layoffs, Campbell said in the statement that she plans on starting a fund "to reopen the AFS Cinema, to keep the Austin Public (video production facility) a key resource for the community to have access to the tools of production, to support the most promising Texas artists through the AFS Grant, and to keep Austin Studios open for business, whenever the city deems it safe to do so."


Campbell also said in the statement that AFS was able to provide all staff who lost jobs with severance packages.


The Austin Film Society is celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2020. Director Richard Linklater founded the society in 1985. Since opening in 2017, AFS Cinema has become the key art house cinema in Austin’s movie theater landscape.


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