Cinema is the most accessible and popular form of ticketed cultural experience in the UK. The enduring appeal and longevity of the big screen experience is evidenced in the major growth in community cinema venues and audiences in recent decades. Beyond just screening films, community cinemas function as important sites of social value, and this has enabled them to flourish despite the increasing personalisation of media technologies and fragmentation of viewing.
Community cinemas generate important opportunities for local residents to come together. They foster and empower networks of people through the activities of both managing and attending screening events. Evidence shows that one of the greatest areas of positive impact is for marginalised citizens –eg. people on low incomes, rurally isolated or with long-term health issues and their carers.
Community cinemas operate under a range of different models. While some local groups are able to independently initiate and manage their screening enterprises, many find it feasible only with the support and assistance of a specialist screen network. The expertise and centralised services offered by network organisations significantly reduces the burden of time, technical knowledge and cost on individual local groups, and make it possible for large numbers of communities to enjoy the social and cultural benefits of cinema. The Community Screen Forum (CSF) was formed in 2016 to represent the vital work of specialist screen network organisations around the UK.
In the first 17 years of this century, community cinema has shown the kind of resilience, creativity and growth that cinema urgently needs if it is to survive a time of ‘any content, anywhere’. The rapid and widespread emergence of network operators and the resulting formation of the Community Screen Forum are built on cinema’s ancient foundations in the social value of storytelling. They represent a democratisation and a revival, and a means for any community to take their place in a cinema without borders.
Christoph Warrack, Founder and CEO Open Cinema (a CSF member organisation)
The Community Screen Forum is already proving to be an invaluable way to share experiences and knowledge among groups working in very different regions across the UK, and by doing so it is helping to make visible just how important community screen events can be for the people and places where they are held.
Robert Livingston, CEO Regional Screen Scotland (a CSF member organisation)
The CSF, in partnerhsip with the University of East Anglia (Dr Karina Aveyard, Senior Lecturer in the School of Arts, Media and American Studies), has today published a series of free Fact Sheets. These are designed to promote a better understanding of the community screen sector and of the CSF’s activities. These documents will be of interest to the screen sector, and more broadly to anyone involved in community based social inclusion activities.
Fact Sheet 1 introduces the CSF and the size and scope of the important work of its members. This is followed by Fact Sheet 2 that details more about the social value of community cinema and provides a case study of CSF member, Cine North.
We’re always hearing positive stories about the impact Cine North has on communities. The work of the CSF had given us a fantastic opportunity to reflect and analyse how important this kind of volunteer led cultural activity is in galvanising villages and improving social lives.
Kathryn Penny, Film Festivals/Film Business Manager, Cine North
Fact Sheet 3 explains film distribution and licensing in the context of community cinema, how this influences screenings, and why it’s not always possible for communities to enjoy the latest films when they’re released.
Community Cinema is bringing people back to the ‘silver screen’ who have not been to the cinema for many years. It is also a real ‘bringer together’ of people of all ages and backgrounds. The CSF’s Fact Sheets show just how exciting this new form of cinema can be.
Phill Walkley, Co-Founder Moviola (a CSF member organisation)
For further information and to download free copies of the Fact Sheets please to to the CSF website https://www.uea.ac.uk/community-screen-forum