A Cinema - Great For Your Local Community

Written by James MacGregor on . Posted in Film industry

The Magic of the Movies 

A new report published today by the UK’s leading film organisations charts the rich and varied benefits of cinema on local communities across the UK.


Local cinemas play a hugely positive role in boosting the local economy, improving social cohesion and benefiting local culture. Screenings for parents with babies, weekly tea and biscuit matinees for the elderly, and films designed to appeal to many different groups are just a few examples of how cinema can reach out to all sections of society and bring people together. Local cinemas are also acclaimed for their links with schools and colleges to enhance learning opportunities.

The Impact of Local Cinema report examines how cinemas can benefit their local communities socially, culturally, environmentally and economically. It includes in-depth case studies of five independent, locally owned and operated cinemas – The Savoy, Penzance; The Curzon, Clevedon; The Lonsdale, Annan, Scotland; The Rio, Dalston, Hackney; and The Metro, Derby. It also provides a simple ’impact measurement toolkit‘ which enables venues, local authorities and development agencies to conduct similar local research.

Funded by the UK Film Council, British Film Institute (bfi), and regional screen agencies - EM Media and Film London – the report includes the following highlights.

• Cinema-goers generate money for the local economy combining trips to the cinema with visits to local bars, restaurants, bakeries, food shops and takeaways.

• Where they can, cinema managers source their supplies locally boosting small businesses in the area.

• Cinemas encourage more people into the area, particularly in the evening, with residents and other visitors feeling safer as a result.

• Cinemas provide educational activities, eg end of term screenings for local schools and Further Education colleges, film-illustrated lectures and events linked to the National Curriculum.

• Special events target underserved groups, eg The Metro in Derby holds special screenings for children with autism and hearing impairments.

• The Savoy in Penzance provides screenings for local hospital patients while the Curzon in Clevedon and the Lonsdale in Annan put on weekly tea and biscuit matinees for older people. Parents with babies in Derby and Dalston can enjoy screenings especially for them without the worry of their child disturbing others.

• Local cinemas programme films to meet the needs of their community, eg films with a local interest; specialised films including lesbian and gay films; films shown as part of Black History Month; films for the local Japanese community in Derby; and South Asian women’s group. The Rio in Dalston hosts Turkish and Kurdish film festivals.

• Regular charity screenings help raise funds for local societies.

Anthony Minghella, Chairman of the bfi, who wrote the report’s foreword said:

“Film has the power to inspire us and such a significant and popular medium should be accessible to all communities in its most potent form – the cinema. This timely report draws attention to the many benefits of local cinema provision – and the importance of providing access to this most democratic and popular cultural pursuit. Well-supported local cinema also makes less obvious contributions to small communities, providing economic benefit, confronting social exclusion and enhancing tourism. It’s clear from the report that such advantages are often forgotten; local cinema is not perhaps as celebrated as it might be. It is my real hope that this report will act as a valuable resource to those who support and champion local cinema.”

John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council said of today’s report:

“Local cinema improves the quality of life for communities across the UK. The benefits which can range from boosting the local economy to tackling social exclusion, from improving local culture to encouraging more people into the area, are often overlooked. There’s some fantastic work being done by local cinemas across the UK and this report recognises that work and the resulting benefits it brings.”

The UK Film Council has launched a number of National Lottery-funded cinema projects which aim to both expand the range of films brought to audiences across the UK and improve the opportunities for those people who currently have limited access to film. These include:

• A network of digital screens across the UK, the first 50 of which are already installed, with a further 190 scheduled to be installed between now and spring 2007;

• support for rural cinemas and film societies;

• support for films to be made available in cinemas for people with sensory impairments; and

• a capital fund for smaller cinemas to assist with refurbishment and new equipment to ensure that smaller communities continue to have access to the highest possible standards at their local cinema.