Please note: this was an email that was sent out to Members on 17 March 2020.
As you will no doubt have seen, the government made further statements yesterday to protect the public from the worsening health situation in the UK. Following our last advice, many of you have been cancelling your events. If you have not yet done so, it is now that we strongly recommend the cancellation, or postponement of your upcoming screenings. This is an important measure to protect your audience (especially if they are older or vulnerable, as many community cinema goers are) and the wider public, as measures are taken to prevent further spread of Covid-19.
We know this will not affect you lightly, and it’s with a very heavy heart that we recommend you close your doors. However, this break will be temporary. Community cinemas and film societies love film – but we also love and cherish our communities and audiences.
Below is some information that will help you with your next steps. We will send you more updates as and when the government advice changes:
1. Good hygiene is still at the top of the list of things you can do right now. Washing your hands thoroughly, and often, and self-isolating if you feel unwell at all, is an important first defence for ourselves and those more vulnerable than us. Please look towards NHS guidelines and the Department of Health and Social Care to keep you up to date on this quickly changing area.
3. Many of you may have vulnerable or elderly audience members who may self-isolating, struggling to get a hold of basics or suffering with a lot of worry. Reaching out to them by phone, or email if they have it, can make a huge difference. We’ve seen many examples over the last few days of our groups reaching out to their community to ensure older and vulnerable people receive care packages – you can see some of these examples, and stay in touch with other community cinema organisers on the UK Film Societies and Community Cinemas Facebook group.
4. If you are not a volunteer-led group, the BFI have issued advice and are requesting feedback on how you might be affected. Please get in touch with them. Additional business rates relief info can be found here. The situation is changing rapidly however, so do keep your eye on communication channels.
5. This is obviously heart-breaking for many of us – but staying safe and protecting our communities is the number one priority right now. Cinema For All will be looking at ways we can help you, over the next few days.
Below is some information on the Cinema For All office closure and temporarily suspended services:
6. The Cinema For All office in Sheffield is now closed and the team is working from home. We are currently working on setting up a remote office phone (through our computers) – but this may take a few days. The best way to contact us for now is to mail us on email@example.com, or mail us individually (you can find our email addresses on our staff page). Much of our work continues as normal, as we respond to queries and deliver our online training programmes Launchpad and Sustain. We do anticipate a loss of income from our services during this time, so if your membership is up for renewal, we kindly ask that you renew promptly. Please don’t send cheques during this time – we will provide all online payment options in our renewal email.
7. Booking Scheme: please try to email us about any Cinema For All films that you are cancelling, however, we will not charge you a cancellation fee as long as you drop us a line within two weeks after your original screening date. We will still be able to take bookings for screenings for June onwards – so we urge you to postpone, rather than outright cancel, where possible. Of course, we hope things will be back up and running before then, and if so – we will re-open the calendars for earlier dates as and when. All discs have been sent out for screenings up to 21 March – no more discs will be sent out until we get the all-clear to return to public life. If you have any questions about this, please contact Sarah.
8. Equipment Hire Scheme: we are temporarily suspending the equipment hire scheme, as many of our equipment hosts, including the Cinema For All office, start to close. If you have made a booking between now and June, you will be contacted in the next few days to arrange a refund. If your booking was provisional, you will also be contacted to let you know that we can no longer hold the booking. We will be able to take provisional bookings for June onwards, so again, if you are able to postpone, rather than outright cancel, please talk to Jay.
That’s all from us for now. Please forgive these very long messages at this time – further, non-emergency communications will come from us in our newsletter format. However, we may still email you directly if there are major updates that might affect you.
Again, this is temporary. Our faith in the power of the community cinema sector is stronger than ever. The passion you have for your community, as much as you have for film, is a bright spark for us at this difficult time.
Here for you now, as ever,
Cinema For All