Paul Homer, chief executive, The Phoenix, East Finchley
“The Phoenix Cinema, in East Finchley, has been run by the local community since 1985 and has stood since 1910. The cinema is the heart of the community and frequently cited by local residents as a reason they move to and stay in the area. The cinema brings films from around the world to this corner of London, sharing stories that would otherwise not be told. The cinema has a major economic benefit to the area as well. Turning over in excess of £600,000 annually the cinema employs the equivalent of 12 full-time posts, as well providing work to local businesses including an electrician, a baker and a painter. As a venue for hire to community groups and businesses we help local charities to run events to raise money, including two royal visits with good PR for the area. We are recognised by our local council, Barnet, as an important organisation in the borough. We help to improve Barnet’s cultural provision, although do not receive any revenue funding from them. So it’s a win-win situation for them.
Lezley Picton, (Head of Arts & Heritage, Shropshire Council), Old Market Hall, Shrewsbury
“The OMH is renowned for the quality of venue, facilities and Programme. The redevelopment brought life to a derelict building, empty for nearly 10 years. It’s renovation breathed new life in to The Square which was experiencing many empty shops etc. Even now, in a recession there are no empty shops. Since the opening of the OMH there has been a marked increase in the number of A3 (Restaurant/Cafe) businesses including Loch Fine and three large cafe/coffee units have opened including Cafe Nero and Starbucks within 50m of venue – trade has not been affected, in fact it’s increased. Once a no-go zone, the area around this cinema has seen marked social and economic regeneration. The local evening economy has been particularly transformed and the success of the cinema has led to massive external investment towards a new £28 million pound state of the art theatre, Theatre Severn. The biggest complain we get is “I can’t get a ticket” – it’s a nice problem to have.”
Jemma Buckley, audience development officer, The Rio, Dalston
“The Rio is an independent, single screen community cinema, operating as a registered charity and proud to be Hackney’s last remaining cinema. We are committed to providing as diverse a programme of high-quality cinema as possible, participating in many regional and national festivals to bring world-class cultural events to Hackney residents. We are viewed in Hackney not just as a cinema offering much needed access to the arts, but also as a provider of well-valued community initiatives and activities for local residents. Our schools screenings programme works with over 10,000 children and young people a year. While our diverse programming ensures we contribute to the cultural scene of the area, drawing audiences from across London, our wider activities demonstrate we are also a well-loved and much-treasured resource within the local community.”
Frank Challenger, CEO, Light House Media Centre, Wolverhampton
“Working on a variety of projects, Light House is able to attract grants from many organisations. These have included the UK Film Council, the regional screen agency, the regional development agency, AWM, Screen WM, various employment/regeneration funds (recently, for example, Working Neighbourhoods Fund and Future Jobs Fund and so on) as well as ESF, ERDF and LSC. The continued support of the local authority has been essential in securing this external investment. The cinema is at the heart of this activity. It is professionally staffed but also has teams of volunteers, increasing the community’s involvement. Some residents have said that if Light House closed, they would move from the City! I expect Walthamstow has some similarities with Wolverhampton; the existence of cinema in the centre can assist in bringing communities together, drawing in support and recognition."