Film education activities to be scaled back at Cinema City throughout 2018

Cinema City, Norwich.

Cinema City, Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Film education activities and courses are set to be scaled back at Cinema City throughout 2018 following changes to the education programme at the Norwich venue.

Cinema City Ltd, the charity of which Cinema City Education is a part, has announced in a statement that the decision has been made to 'enable it to remain sustainable for the long term.' It follows a tweet from the @CinemaCityEdu Twitter account earlier this week which said: 'Sadly CinemaCityEducation is pausing the majority of its activities this year. The staff want to say what an absolute pleasure it has been to work on such interesting projects and courses with so many great people over the years.'

The news comes just over a year after the John Hurt Centre - a screen heritage and film education centre funded largely by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant - was opened at Cinema City in September 2016 to help make film education and community activities more accessible.

Cost pressures and the need to pay off the final tranche of the costs of the 2007 capital redevelopment project - which turned the cinema into a three-screen digital complex - have been given as the reason for the latest changes which have resulted in the education manager and two-part-time education officer roles being made redundant.

The cinema, bar and restaurant, which are run separately by Picturehouse Cinemas, are not affected.


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The Cinema City Ltd statement said: 'Once the 2007 capital costs have been paid off, the charity will have a secure and sustainable income stream through its role of landlord to the operator of Cinema City, Picturehouse Cinemas.'

Philip Easter, Cinema City Ltd's chairman of trustees, said: 'This has been a very difficult decision, especially as it has involved the redundancy of our small educational team. However, as Trustees, our primary concern has to be the long-term viability and sustainability of the charity.'

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The Cinema City Ltd statement said it planned to launch a 'much more ambitious programme' of education activities from April 2019 and until then some film education activities would continue, although on a reduced scale. It said: 'The charity will still be running previously advertised and booked film courses and will continue to deliver the successful Moving Memories programme.'

About Cinema City Education

Cinema City Education is managed directly by Cinema City Ltd and oversees the film education programme of the Norwich-based charitable trust.

It sits alongside, but is separate from, the cinema, bar and restaurant which are run by Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd.

Cinema City Education has run day schools, evening courses and a Friday Film School, as well as specific events for schools and colleges and community projects such as the Moving Memories Reminiscence Project.

It also co-ordinated the Norfolk at the Pictures project which aimed to preserve and share memories of film and cinema-going in Norfolk and culminated with the launch of the John Hurt Centre at Cinema City in 2016. The centre was named after Sir John Hurt because the late actor had been a passionate supporter of the power of film to 'educate and inspire and improve people's lives' and he was both patron of Cinema City Education and Cinema City Ltd.

Cinema City's 2007 transformation

Cinema City Ltd moved into the historic Suckling House and Stuart Hall, in Norwich's St Andrews Street, in 1978.

It was originally a single screen film theatre but - following a major £4.5m redevelopment project - the venue reopened in 2007 as a digitally equipped three-screen venue in partnership with Picturehouse Cinemas.

As well as giving film-goers the chance to enjoy watching more films screened with state-of-the-art equipment and in more comfortable auditoriums, the project also included work in other areas and saw some previously hidden parts of the building reopened to the public.

The project was made possible with financial support from Arts Council England East, the East of England Development Agency and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

From the tail-end of 2003 until the completion of the development project, the cinema had a temporary home at Norwich Playhouse.

Analysis

News that film education activities are to be scaled back at Cinema City throughout 2018 is incredibly sad. The Cinema City Education programme has always done a great job of providing opportunities for people of all ages to discover and share a love of film and filmmaking through an array of courses and events. And just over a year ago there had been great celebration when the education programme received a boost with the opening of a new screen heritage and film education venue at Cinema City. It was named the John Hurt Centre after the late actor who had been a Cinema City patron and a champion of film education. He had previously said: 'I am a great believer in the power of the moving image to educate and improve people's lives.' The decision to reduce the education programme in 2018 has been explained as a necessary measure to safeguard its future. Let us hope that it returns with a full programme as soon as possible - because it would be a tragedy if this unique film education offer was lost.

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