A Community Cinema  

Since reopening in 1981, the cinema has been managed by a Limited Company which is a subsidiary of the Harwich Electric Palace Trust that owns the building. Almost all the staff of the Limited Company work as volunteers, this includes the directors, projectionists, managers and sales people. The Limited Company usually makes a small profit which is then paid over to the charitable Trust and thereby used for the maintenance and upgrading of the building. The cinema runs on a club basis and most of the Club Membership income is used to pay for insurance - one of its chief expenses.

Programming is carried out by the volunteer directors on a pragmatic basis. In general most of the selected films come from the Screen International Top Ten each month. Films are shown about two months after the films are first released. This has the advantage that the percentage rates are lower and knowledge of the track record of product is higher. This enables the cinema to make a modest profit on most films and this is transferred to the Trust for maintenance and upkeep of the building. Independence also means that other films, which may not necessarily appear in the top ten or even top twenty, can be shown.

Students from St Petersburg in performance of
Chekhov's A Wedding Feast.

The cinema has no subsidies except for very special events when a grant makes it was possible to present gala screening, for example - of a silent classic with live orchestral accompaniment. The motivation for the project has been the saving and restoration of a very special building and the renaissance of cinema in a community that had had no cinema for many years. This has been a considerable benefit to many different parts of the community. Special films can be booked for groups such as local schools of relevance to their school curriculum, societies with a specific interest, the showing of art films combined with a meal at The Pier Restaurant. Live events include regular jazz concerts and productions by amateur drama groups. The local authority is now totally in tune with the preservation and upkeep of the cinema and has been very helpful. The success of a venture such as this is fragile as it depends on inspiration, goodwill, and continued enjoyment by all the volunteers who have made it such an outstanding success.

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Last Updated Tuesday, March 09 2004 at 05:48 PM GMT

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