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Cash boost to keep Kent’s independent cinemas afloat

Eight non-chain cinemas get grants ranging from £120,000+ to a little less than £10,000

Is your local cinema not part of a big chain and are you, therefore, concerned about its future? If the answer to both parts is “yes”, there is some good news. Eight such cinemas in Kent (several of them dotted around the coastline) have been receiving grants of varying amounts (see table) to help them through these troubled times.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced a total of £16m in grants from its Culture Recovery Fund for arts and cultural organisations to 202 independent cinemas across England. The fund is being administered by the British Film Institute (BFI) on behalf of the DCMS.

The list of cinemas funded includes the following cinemas in the south-east – there are still cinemas whose funding is in progress so there will be more awards in the new year.  And, of course, while some cinemas are open, many are closed at this time, but supporting them so they will be there for audiences once restrictions are lifted is important to communities.

The award amounts listed is the total sum to the cinemas – in many case this comprises a health and safety award (capped at £10k) and/or a business sustainability award.  Some cinemas which have received health and safety funding may also be in the process of applying for business sustainability awards which would be announced at a later date.

So the line-up in the south-east (with Kent cinemas highlighted) is:

Abbey Cinema & Unicorn Theatre, AbingdonLumiere Kinesis £142,225
Carlton Cinema, Westgate-on-SeaPicturedrome Electric Theatre£126,458
Chichester Cinema at New ParkChichester Cinema at New Park £4,853
Commodore, RydeBrown Leisure£63,689
Corn Exchange, WallingfordCorn Exchange Wallingford£40,700
Electric Palace Cinema, HastingsElectric Palace Cinema CIC£34,004
Empire, High WycombeEmpire Cinemas£7,863
Empire, SandwichRex Cinemas£9,192
Empire, SloughEmpire Cinemas£7,863
Hailsham Pavilion, HailshamHailsham Pavilion£55,446
Kavanagh, WhitstableRSJ Cinemas£21,338
Kino, HawkhurstKino Digital£108,902
Kino, RyeKino Digital £108,902
Kino-Teatr, HastingsKino-Teatr £36,973
Light, AddlestonThe Light Cinemas £7,164
The Malt Cinema, LymingtonLymington Community Association£4,765
New Century, SittingbourneCinegogh £56,973
Orion Cinema, Burgess HillOrion Cinemas £92,010
Palace, AltonPalace Cinema£20,776
Palace, BroadstairsVision Box Cinema £62,441
Picture House, UckfieldThe Digital Picture House£146,882
Picturedrome Cinema, Bognor RegisPicturedrome Electric Theatre £126,458
Reel Cinema, Fareham (Market Quay)Reel Cinemas£9,997
Scott Cinemas @ The Atrium, East GrinsteadWTW-Scott Cinemas South West £42,143
Screen Cinema, WindsorThe Screen Cinema Ltd (c/o ND Cinema and The Old Court CIC)£10,000
Silver Screen, FolkstoneAlexander Wallace & Christopher Lightwing t/a The Silver Screen Cinema£71,265
The Stag, SevenoaksThe Stag Community Arts Centre£9,306
The Depot, LewesLewes Community Screen£2,609
The Dome Cinema, WorthingPDJ Cinemas£323,442
The Sussex Exchange, St Leonards-on-SeaThe Sussex Exchange£9,655
The Ultimate Picture Palace, OxfordUltimate Picture Palace£44,269
Windmill Cinema, Brighton/WorthingWindmill Cinema£53,468

Cinemas will be able to apply for another £14m in grants in the new year as part of the second round of the Culture Recovery Fund. The new round of funding is in addition to the £30m already being allocated by the BFI.

The BFI has been accepting applications and awarding grants to independent cinemas throughout the autumn. Eligible cinemas were able to apply for safety grants, to help venues meet the immediate costs of implementing Covid-secure measures to protect staff and audiences, and larger Business Sustainability grants to help stabilise sites financially.

Recognising that cinemas need content, during this crisis, the Government’s Film and TV Production Restart Scheme has helped keep the cameras rolling at the other end of the screen supply chain. The £500m scheme, which opened for applications in October, has assured nearly 100 productions that they will be supported if future losses are incurred due to Covid-19 and gave the confidence needed to restart filming. 

The scope of the Restart Scheme has been extended so cast and crew over the age of 70 can be included in the cover provided by the scheme. The changes to the scheme will enable productions to receive compensation for Covid-related delays affecting up to two cast or crew members over the age of 70. This extension will give productions that involve cast and crew over 70 the confidence to start or restart production, increasing employment opportunities for this group.

The deadline for productions to register for the scheme has also been extended until April 2021, giving more film and high-end TV projects the security to start shooting in the spring.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “The magic of film is such an important part of the festive period and this investment will help protect our independent cinemas so they’re around for many Christmases to come. Alongside it, the extension of the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme means the UK will be producing even more great content as the cinema industry recovers, keeping us at the forefront of the creative industries.”

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “As a Star Wars fan, I know there’s no better place to experience great films than in your local cinema and these grants will provide vital support for independent venues through Christmas and beyond. Our Restart Scheme has already helped to get nearly 100 film and TV productions back up and running as part of our Plan for Jobs, and it’s right that we extend this to support even more jobs in the UK’s creative industries, including for the over 70s.”

The majority of the grant funding allocated by the BFI has been awarded to cinema sites in every corner of the country, from Penrith to Peckham and Penzance, with cinemas outside London benefitting from 78% of funding to date. 

Image: WallpaperCave

Gemma Arterton (left), actor and producer (Made in DagenhamHow to Build a Girl), said: “As a child growing up in Gravesend, some of my fondest memories are the magic and wonder I felt going to my local cinema with my dad. It felt like a special treat, an event. Sadly, that cinema has now closed. We have to support our local cinemas to make sure those special moments can be experienced by generations of children and adults alike, for years to come. Watching a film at home just isn’t the same. Being in a darkened room with strangers, escaping into a world together is something very unique. It’s a shared experience. Cinemas are among the last bastions of community hubs. We need to support them in any way we can and keep the magic of cinema and community alive.”

Actor Michael Caine, who starred in Christopher Nolan’s Tenet which drew audiences back to cinemas in the autumn, has welcomed the help for the industry and encouraged audiences to support cinemas with safe visits where possible. He said: “The moving image has the power to change the way we think. The power to inspire; to delight; and to move. It happens to me all the time. Film is one of the most powerful and accessible art forms on earth – and for so many a local cinema is a place we know, love and have grown up with. A cinema is very often a vital part of any community and we need to support them in order to keep the art of film and the sense of community alive. Let’s go to the pictures!”


David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past local weekly publications he has worked for include: the South-East London Mercury* covering the Borough of Greenwich as a junior reporter; Orpington-based News Shopper as a sub-editor; and the Kent Messenger when based in Larkfield, Maidstone, as deputy chief sub-editor. He has also worked for the following dailies/nationals: Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor on a car fleet magazine. His first foray into property ownership saw him move from London to Rainham (the Gillingham, Kent, variety). He has subsequently lived in Chislehurst, Petts Wood and Orpington in the Borough of Bromley (which he still regards as being in Kent). In more recent years he owned three different properties on the Kings Hill (West Malling) development.

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