This Way Up 2017 took place in the Hull, the City of Culture for 2017. Over two days, exhibitors from across the UK gathered to learn and discuss the latest challenges facing the UK cinema exhibition industry. Here are five things that we learned.
- Community is key
Moira Sinclair, CEO of the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, declared in her opening keynote that organisations who don’t put their communities at the heart of their organisations are the ones that are doomed to fail. Talking to each other, listening to audiences and understanding the subtleties of different demographics are a vital part of a successful cinema.
- Diversity is still a challenge
Jenny Sealey MBE’s keynote pulled no punches. Sealey is the Artistic Director of Graeae’s Theatre Company, and explained passionately how D/deaf and disabled audiences are still being ignored. As things move forward and are improving for so many people, it is essential not to forget those that are still being left behind. Something as simple as programming more screenings with the correct subtitles can make our cinemas more inclusive.
- Safeguarding staff and guests at film festivals is vital
Melanie Iredale of Sheffield Doc/Fest lead an informative discussion offering practical advice to film festivals about how to make them safer for staff and guests. The film industry needs to quickly form a robust system, working with local authorities and emergency services to ensure that everybody who takes part feels safe and able to report issues.
- Funding applications- what needs to change
It was declared during Moira Sinclair’s keynote that organisations shouldn’t tailor themselves or their events for the sake of a funding application. But how is this possible when funding is so scarce? As pointed out by Louise Carney from Heartland Film Society, smaller rural communities are often far smaller, and the demographic make up entirely different. Funding needs to take these things in consideration in order for true inclusivity.
- Cinema is everywhere
Despite cinemas and festivals operating in every nook and cranny of the UK, it seems that the exhibition as a whole is still catching up. The London-centric nature of the industry, despite the volumes of excellent work done by the regional Hubs, is still a huge issue. This is reflected in funding, immovable programming rules set by distributors and the general attitude that London are still setting the tone for what the rest of the UK is supposed to need. Regional community cinemas is particular need to have their requirements understood and listened to.