EcoTech could be used for films

A project to open a cinema in Swaffham for the first time in 40 years is being discussed by the town's Iceni Partnership and EcoTech Centre.

A project to open a cinema in Swaffham for the first time in 40 years is being discussed by the town's Iceni Partnership and EcoTech Centre.

The joint scheme would involve using the centre's 96-seat theatre, which has all the modern equipment needed to screen films but is now used only for business or educational purposes.

Organisers hope the cinema will be up and running by next spring, with programmes including recently-released popular movies, shows for children and foreign language and special interest art films.

Screenings could be up to three times a week, depending on demand, and the formation of a cinema club as well as children's film sessions are also under consideration.

Iceni chairman Tony Dickens said: “We know from our public consultation events that a lot of people would like to see a cinema here, so the partnership is very keen to bring this about. We're looking at the detail of how we get recently-released films and are contacting various people like Cinema City and Community Arts East, another group that might be interested in giving us some help.”

The scheme – Iceni Cinema at EcoTech – would bring movies to Swaffham for the first time since the old Regal closed in the early 1960s.

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It is part of an ongoing project to make the EcoTech building more relevant to the needs of the local community as well as being a major centre for learning, business exhibitions and conferences promoting renewable energy.

Andrew Twomey, EcoTech executive director, said: “We've had the intention of running a rural cinema here for some time and we now have all the relevant licences in place.

“EcoTech is particularly determined at the moment to be much more connected to the community.”

A new era began for EcoTech in July when it reopened to the public after financial problems forced its closure the previous October.

Now officials are thinking of further broadening the scope of activities by holding a jazz festival or some sort of similar musical event, evening dinner dances and licensing the building for weddings.

Mr Twomey added: “Why have a beautiful million-pound building that sits on the edge of a delightful town and at the heart of a rural community and not use it for the community?”

The cinema plan was welcomed by Mayor Pam Buxton, also secretary of Swaffham Arts, who said: “This is something I would really like to see. I think this is a great opportunity for people of all ages.”

The Iceni Partnership invites comments from the public about the project and the kind of films they would like to see. Call 01760 720905.

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