Film Hub Wales (FHW) has awarded £52,000 in National Lottery funding, through the BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund, to 15 Welsh independent cinemas and film festivals as they plan for reopening.
Funds will be used to aid recovery, enabling venues to safely restart British and international film screenings, including through cabaret-style seating and ‘big screen bubbles’, so that they can reconnect with the most isolated Welsh communities affected by lockdown.
Socially-distanced film activities will take place Wales-wide, creating safe spaces where people can still travel the world via the big screen, at affordable prices. Audiences will be at the heart of decision making, with their feedback valued by venues as they rebuild.
In Barry, the Memo Arts Centre will create ‘big screen Bub-L’ activities upon reopening, designed to welcome both new and existing audiences. Visitors will experience the big screen in socially distanced bubbles, which have been created with accessibility and creative well being in mind. Digital and craft activities will be available online and to take away, along with grown-up or family focused treat bags served to cabaret style tabled seats. MAC will listen to and incorporate feedback from their audience as they shape new and diverse programming strategies post Covid.
Since the pandemic began, many sites have been unable to open their doors to the public. With an uncertain future still ahead, they have been working to diversify their business models, develop robust health and safety procedures and secure critical alternative sources of income.
Hana Lewis, Strategic Manager of Film Hub Wales explains:
“We need to recognise the impact of cinemas in our communities and the potential loss we will all face if they close as a result of the pandemic. From Neuadd Ogwen, which provided food to 600 people via its foodbank, to the Magic Lantern and Theatr Gwaun, which both delivered medical supplies and mental health support to vulnerable patrons, independent venues have gone above and beyond to help those in most need. They have done this whilst also planning for their own uncertain futures, interrogating their business plans, reviewing their approaches to access and equality and exploring environmental sustainability. These funds will help them to restart crucial social, economic and cultural provision through on-screen activity.”
Ben Luxford, Head of UK Audiences at the BFI adds:
“This year has shown the absolute importance and need of programming beyond the mainstream, and we’re pleased to be able to support exhibitors in Wales continue to do that.”
The BFI FAN Film Exhibition Fund is made possible thanks to National Lottery funding, repurposed by the British Film Institute (BFI) via its Film Audience Network (FAN). The fund offers critical relief and business continuity to exhibitors across the whole of the UK. Funds in Wales are administered by FHW via Chapter as the Film Hub Lead Organisation.