EVENT CINEMA ASSOCIATION .ORG
Independent Cinemas in the UK
AUTHOR: VANESSA HILLS, HEAD OF MARKETING
ECA Member: more2screen
VISIT MEMBER WEBSITE: more2screen.com
Vanessa Hills, Head of Marketing at '2015 ECA Best European Distributor Award' winner More2Screen, explains why Event Cinema and Independent venues are made for each other and how the Independent Cinema sector in the UK is thriving and that, in part, this can be attributed to the rise of Event Cinema.
In addition to its own wide-ranging catalogue of dance, music and theatre content, More2Screen has been distributing the Royal Opera House Live Cinema Season to indie cinemas across the UK for the past 6 years and our seventh season opened with Bellini’s operatic masterpiece, Norma, on 26 September 2016.
Brindley Sherratt as Oroveso, Sonya Yoncheva as Norma and Joseph Calleja as Pollione in Norma, The Royal Opera © 2016 ROH. Photograph by Bill Cooper
More2Screen now regularly works with more than 200 independent British venues that are hugely diverse in their size, location, architecture and staffing: from Tideswell Cinema in the Peak District, a 60 seater not-for-profit cinema above a pub run entirely by volunteers that regularly sells out its Event Cinema screenings; to Saffron Screen where the Saffron Walden County High School is transformed into a popular community cinema in the evenings and weekends; or the Broadway Cinema in Letchworth that includes a glass of wine in the ticket price and has a string quartet playing in the foyer. The spectrum is vast, but there is a common desire to choose the best content for the local community and to ensure people know about it!
Each year we invite our independent cinema partners to join us for a networking conference where we announce future More2Screen releases and the Royal Opera House team presents the highlights of the forthcoming season. This event also provides a valuable opportunity for cinema teams to meet each other, share technical knowledge and best practice, and most importantly perhaps be inspired by innovative ways to ensure the customer’s experience of Event Cinema is everything it should be and more.
At this year’s conference in June four of our long-term indie partners took part in a new session we termed ‘5 IN 5’ – 5 things about your venue that you’d like everyone to know in 5 minutes! First up was Liz Leyshon from Strode Theatre, a theatre and cinema in Street, near Glastonbury, Somerset. Liz emphasised the importance of replicating the theatre experience across the bar, catering and the box office to give customers a sense of occasion whether they are coming to watch a play, ballet or opera on the big screen.
This approach is embraced wholeheartedly by our next 5 IN 5 contributor, Ray Trewhitt of the Wetherby Film Theatre in Yorkshire, a family-run venue where on an Event Cinema night customers are welcomed by staff dressed in black tie, including Ray’s young grandson who hands out specially printed cast sheets.
Our third speaker, Mark Williams from WTW Cinemas in Cornwall talked about how variety in programming transformed their cinemas into more rounded, multi-purpose venues, and what a difference Event Cinema can make to a local community, particularly where the population is older and less able or inclined to travel.
Our final speaker, Jas Kapur from the Light House cinema in Wolverhampton, explained how Event Cinema brought a new customer base to their venue, one that has remained loyal and chooses the Light House above other cinemas to watch cultural content. Jas attributes this in part to the excellent customer service they offer on the night, but also to the special nature of the building – a converted factory where the glass ceiling atrium is candlelit for the interval, creating a very special atmosphere that is hard to beat!
All over the UK there are vibrant independent venues like these going the extra mile to bring the very best of world-class culture to their community – and ensuring that an Event Cinema screening really is an event.
Videos of the four ‘5 IN 5’ presentations are available to watch on the More2Screen YouTube Channel.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Name: Vanessa Hills
Role: Head of Marketing
Vanessa Hills has been Head of Marketing at More2Screen since 2009 and was appointed to the Event Cinema Association Board in 2015. Formerly Account Director at leading below-the-line agency Euro RSCG KLP, Vanessa has worked in marketing for more than 25 years across consumer and business-to-business projects for blue chip clients including Coca-Cola, Benckiser, Allied Domecq and Procter & Gamble. As an arts lover with a particular interest in dance, she is delighted to be part of the dynamic and creative world of Event Cinema.