Please note: this was an email that was sent out to Members on 14 May 2020.
We hope you are all keeping well and safe. Though the Cinema For All team is still advising, chatting and holding training sessions with you and your fellow volunteers during this peculiar time, we very much miss the hustle and bustle of community cinema life, hearing the stories about your audiences and films you’ve seen lately and connecting with you in person at events.
We wanted to take a moment to explain to you why and how our team is continuing to work throughout the crisis, as well as what we’ve been working on for you.
As many of you know, though income might slow, the business of being a charity does not stop. Though two of our services are temporarily suspended (the Booking Scheme and equipment hire), much of Cinema For All’s work continues, particularly the work supported by our funders. Our BFI funded activity for 2020-21 has begun – this includes our well-loved Sustain and Next Gen coaching programmes (applications open now!) plus many exciting opportunities for you which will be launching later in the year when we can return to public life. We are proud to be supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, which supports us whilst we grow and develop the community cinema sector, and get closer to achieving cinema for all, despite the trying times. We are also working with Regional Screen Scotland on their A Cinema Near You project, which will train and develop sustainable community cinemas and build lasting networks in Scotland. We are very grateful to our funders and their support for us at this time, and always.
Additionally, income from membership means that we are able to continue delivering our key advice and support services while we continue to provide resources and benefits to you during these uncertain times. Finally, we have received donations from around 40 individuals and community cinemas, which has helped us to plug some of the income downturn that we are seeing from the loss of films bookings and equipment hires. We are very touched and honoured to be supported in this way, when we know times are difficult for all. The people behind the doors of community cinemas are very special indeed, and this support is invaluable to us.
In case you missed some of the resources and opportunities we have been putting out during lockdown, please do take a look at what we’re providing to help you through this time:
• Sustain applications are now open – training for existing community cinemas to grow and develop, plus opportunities to collaborate with others on digital projects. There are more ways than ever to get Sustain support this year, giving you increased flexibility and choice, with bursaries ranging from £200 to £1000!
• Next Gen applications are also now open – training for 16-30 year-olds to get brand new community cinemas off the ground (train now, open your doors later!)
• The Cinema For All Podcast – recording from our homes, we’ve made two episodes so far during lockdown, looking at online film clubs and digital releases, and featuring call-ins from community cinemas around the world!
• Case studies – we love to share stories of what amazing things community cinemas are doing for their communities during lockdown, so check out our web case studies, starting with this marvellous one from Leigh Film Society about their much valued DVD drop-off service.
• 20 free training sessions – we’ve delivered 20 free training sessions over the past 8 weeks, helping you keep your skills up to date. We are now out of free sessions, but you can sign up for a session for just £25 here.
• MUBI – we have given all community cinemas and their audiences access to 90 days MUBI free trials. We’ve watched some amazing films on MUBI during lockdown, such as Portrait of Lady on Fire, The Servant, Bacarau and Autumn Sonata. You can still access the trial here. We suggest using some of the great films to digital connect with your audience – for more information, take at look at our new guide to hosting online film clubs.
• Community Exhibitor Report – we have released this year’s report, which presents findings on the community cinema season from the past year, and, for the first time, also analyses trends within the sector over the past 10 years.
• Membership – we’re providing three extra months of membership for groups that are due to renew or join for the first time during lockdown – find out more here.
• We are also very proud to be able to have a Cinema For All member represented on the jury of Krakow Film Festival. Terry Cloake of Ipswich Film Society will be judging this year’s festival submissions digitally. We are very grateful for this opportunity for a UK member, which has come through our friends at the International Federation of Film Societies.
More coming soon:
• Programming in the Dark – our next lockdown resource will look at how to put together a programme using only digital resources, which many of you will be attempting to do over the summer.
• BFI Japan Season – we have been working behind the scenes to make sure community cinemas can be involved in the season as soon as we can open our doors. Stay tuned for news of reduced cost licences on exciting Japanese titles from the Booking Scheme.
• Episode 3 of the Cinema For All podcast – featuring more lockdown stories and tips to keep you connected.
• Community Cinema Conference and Film Society of the Year Awards – of course things will be very different this year, but we would not miss our favourite event of the year for the world. Stay tuned for an announcement soon, as well as FSOY applications going online shortly.
Finally, we know many of you are very concerned about when we return to public life and how you will be able to keep your audiences safe. We want to reassure you that we are looking into this very seriously and preparing advice once we have consulted experts, digested government advice, spoken to insurers and of course, consulted with yourselves.
To help us to put together our risk assessment advice, we are inviting community cinemas to take part in an online focus group so that we can collectively go through our concerns, and start to look at solutions.
The office will remain closed until further notice, but you can still email us at anytime on email@example.com. Again, we do hope you are keeping well and safe, and that you have plenty of great films to watch.
All the very best
The Cinema For All Team