Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Indie cinemas get government cash as multinational announces closure

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Reel Cinema


A Wiltshire cinema is one of 42 to receive a cash boost from the UK government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Reel Cinema in Marshfield Road, Chippenham is one of 14 venues owned by the independent company that will share £139,958 for the purchase and installation of health and safety equipment.

The awards were made by the British Film Institute (BFI) to support England’s screen sector, and were announced by culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday, October 2 – two days before the multinational chain Cineworld said it was mothballing its 127 UK cinemas until the pandemic blows over.

The American chain operates 127 Cineworld and Picturehouse theatres in the UK and a further 536 in the US. The closures, which the company says are a temporary measure until trading conditions improve, will lead to 6,000 redundancies in the UK.

There are two Cineworld cinemas in Swindon – at Shaw Ridge, West Swindon and in the centre of town at Regent Circus.

Of the boost for indie cinemas, the culture secretary said: "We all enjoyed the escapism of a good film during lockdown, but nothing beats the experience of the big screen.

"This first wave of emergency funding will help dozens of independent cinemas around the country, preserving their unique character and history for future generations.

"Our Film and TV Restart Scheme will keep cameras rolling on British-made film and TV - protecting jobs, boosting this hugely important industry and giving us more great content to enjoy.

"But now we need the public to pay their part too. So I urge everyone to get booking your seats and support your local cinema."

Ben Roberts, chief executive at the BFI, added: "The Government’s support for independent cinemas through the Culture Recovery Fund is having a positive impact for venues and local communities in cities, towns and villages across the country as they reopen with new covid-safe measures.

"Thanks to the Culture Recovery Fund we look forward to more cinemas gearing up to reopen in the coming weeks."

Cinemas are allowed to reopen in England so long as they follow the Covid-19 secure UK Cinema Association guidelines.

They are exempt from the 10pm curfew if a performance starts before 10pm, but no alcohol or food can be served after the curfew.

Cinemas are able to continue to host more than six people in total, but parties of greater than six individuals are not allowed.