Funding success for Suffolk’s oldest cinema
FUNDING SUCCESS FOR SUFFOLKS OLDEST CINEMA. @DCMS Culture Recovery Fund, @BFI, #HereForCulture
Everyone involved with Leiston’s iconic Film Theatre are celebrating, after being awarded £57,500 of funding from the DCMS Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas in England, administered by the British Film Institute, as part of the UK Government’s Cultural Recovery Package.
The 105-year-old venue was forced to close in March for 15 weeks, reopening in July, but with many film releases being removed or diverted to streaming services and then a second closure in November, its recovery has been difficult, leaving admissions down by an estimated 15,000 to the end of 2020.
The venue has been inundated with messages of encouragement from concerned customers, anxious about the future of the cinema, with public donations totalling £9,581. Messages and donations of support included one from screenwriter, producer, and film director Richard Curtis who described the venue as “The biggest hearted cinema in Suffolk”.
The Film Theatre has also been forced to cancel almost all its live shows in 2020, including its popular annual Pantomime, Jack and the Beanstalk, which has been postponed until January 2022. However, a recent COVID-secure and socially distanced performance proved that live performances are possible and there is confidence that live shows will return to the venue in the spring of 2021.
Film Theatre manager, Wayne Burns, is both delighted and relieved about the funding news. “Like countless other venues around the UK, 2020 has been a disastrous year in many ways, especially as we’d worked so hard to be where we were in trading terms pre-pandemic. We are so very grateful for this award from the BFI and DCMS Cutural Recovery Fund and also to everyone who has supported us. We are determined to return to our former glory in 2021” he said.
The cinema was saved from closure in 1976 by Leiston Town Council, whose ambition, working with their dedicated cinema staff and fund raising by the Leiston Film Theatre Support Club, have enabled a remarkable renaissance at the venue in recent years.
Leiston-cum Sizewell Town Clerk, Caroline Rinder believes that the government funding will mitigate the financial deficit facing the Film Theatre. “The Town Council are delighted to receive this funding award from the BFI and DCMS Cutural Recovery Fund. It will certainly help alleviate the financial pressures put on the Film Theatre this year. It has been a difficult year and the Theatre Manager and staff have all worked incredibly hard to ensure the Film Theatre is COVID-secure. The Town Council are committed to keeping this iconic venue open and to offer customers, old and new, the bespoke theatre experience to which Leiston Film Theatre is known for” she said.
Leiston Film Theatre is looking forward to a new start in the new year, with new films including Wonder Woman 1984, Blithe Spirit and the anticipated release of The Dig, based on the 1939 Anglo-Saxon ship burial excavation at Sutton Hoo, starring Carey Mulligan and Ralph Fiennes and showing at the Film Theatre from the UK release date of Friday 15th January.
For their latest programme information, please contact the box office on 01728 830549 or visit the website at: www.leistonfilmtheatre.co.uk