Having read this report we hope that, like us, you are convinced of the benefits, both commercial and social, of delivering additional learning and engagement activities alongside your regular screenings. We also hope that you have been inspired by the many examples and recommendations that appear throughout. Although the detailed examples are mostly specific to the work of Cinema Plus and Cambridgeshire Film Consortium, you will find that many aspects of the work we deliver are replicated at other specialised film venues across the UK. For example, many specialised cinemas have cinema clubs, offer introductory talks to films and have a schools programme of some type.
Throughout the report you will have read a series of tips and recommendations to help you plan and deliver learning activity. It is worth highlighting again here a few key observations;
- Film clubs and discussion groups build a sense of connection between a venue and its audience. The clubs are relatively straightforward to administer if you have a committed volunteer in the group and they not only serve to broaden engagement with your programme, but members are likely to become more regular visitors to your venue.
- Introduced screenings, a staple of most specialist cinemas with an education remit, are a good, low-risk way to start offering additional activity in your venue. If the introductions are offered regularly, they might then build demand for a day school and then a longer course. Sometimes a local expert might be happy to provide an introduction in return for expenses or a couple of cinema tickets if they are looking for experience in this area and to build their profile. Evidence has shown that introduced screenings almost always benefit from higher than average attendances.
- The income from Day Schools and longer courses can not only provide a profit if programmed and publicised successfully, they also build a deeper, long term relationship with your audience. Satisfied customers will keep on coming back as well as offering useful suggestions for future courses and events.
- Membership schemes are a good idea, especially if you are a small community cinema or film society. Annual membership fees provide a degree of financial security, meaning you can be more adventurous with programming, plan further ahead and it also builds loyalty among your customers.
- Building and maintaining an email database of attendees for courses and special events means you can easily contact them directly about new courses.
- Making connections with local schools, colleges and universities is an especially effective way of developing young audiences. It's important to identify a key, committed professional such as the Head of Media and discuss their needs and how you might be able to meet them through special screenings and projects.
- Tie-ins with local businesses can be highly beneficial, especially with restaurants and cafes. It can boost your profile through joint marketing and lead to interesting cross-promotional activities.
- Building relationships with local community organisations i.e. through special bespoke screenings and hires will broaden your venues' profile in your area, potentially leading to more bookings.
- Funding is sometimes available, both from national sources but also district and county councils, trusts and foundations that will provide short-term investment or 'seed' funding that will enable you to take the risk out of piloting education activity. Funders often prioritise activity that benefits the local community, especially underserved or disadvantaged audiences (including the rurally excluded). Do bear in mind that funders will generally want to see that you can sustain your activity once the funding stops, so it is important to develop a plan to make your project sustainable and self-financing. For a list of potential funders you could sign up to a source of advice such as GRANTnet www.grantnet.com
Additional resources and support
Film Hub Central East http://filmhub.broadway.org.uk
BFI Framework for Film Education in Europe: http://www.bfi.org.uk/screening-literacy-film-education-europe
British Film Institute www.bfi.org.uk
The Independent Cinema Office www.independentcinemaoffice.org.uk
Cinema for All http://cinemaforall.org.uk
Into Film www.intofilm.org