Stirchley Open Cinema (SOC) overarching aim is to bring the community together through film.
Before the pop-up programme, on average, we had 22 people attend an event monthly. All our previous events were at Stirchley Baths which has a capacity of 40. Since the pop-ups and increased marketing, we have had three sell out events at the Baths, along with sell out events in our pop-up venues. We have gone from running one event a month, to having two events each month.
The newsletter was launched in September 2022, and we had 56 people on the mailing list at the time of the grant submission in October 2022. The newsletter now has 173 subscribers. The podcast was launched in August 2022 and had 69 people listen to the first episode. We now have 830 listeners.
We have built several strong working relationships with local businesses, including the five different venues we have hosted pop-up events with – café, co-working-space, yoga studio, taproom and board game cafe. All our flyer printing is done locally on Stirchley high street by a company who offer us a discount in return for their logo on our materials. This reduces our environmental impact as there are no travel miles for delivery of goods.
We have also teamed up with a local café and bar, who offer a discount to tickets holders as part of our Social Screening initiative that encourages our film goers to join us for a chat about the film after the screening.
Finally, we have raised money and had a food collection for a local foodbank, raising £110 and 19,6 kg of food for the charity.
Following the success of our Pop-Up Pictures programme we are hosting the first ever Stirchley Food and Film Festival. This is going to be a pop-up film festival run by us and participating venues. The festival will run over two weeks starting from August 19th. Each event will take place at a different venue across Stirchley to showcase its brilliant independent scene and provide a unique film-watching experience. Venues will have a film selected to match their food/drink offering.
Increase patronage of SOC
Increase awareness of SOC
Increase partnership working and collaboration with community groups,
charities, and businesses in Stirchley.
Having several sell out events for a range of films that reach different
Running events in unique venues such as a yoga studio and board game café.
Organising our first festival, which included an event that sold out in 2 days.
Sorry We Missed You screening – charity event for foodbank at The Old Post Office co-working space
The Banshees of Inisherin at Stirchley Baths Community Centre
Decision to Leave at Artefact Café
Everything Everywhere All At One at Stirchley Baths Community Centre
Withnail and I at Birmingham Brewing Company Taproom
Nope at Stirchley Baths Community Centre
Nomadland at Yogaborne Yoga Studio
Aftersun at Stirchley Baths Community Centre
Blue Jean at Artefact Café
Clue at Sliced N Diced Board Game Café
A Bunch of Amateurs at Stirchley Baths – charity event for the Jo Cox Foundation
Forthcoming Film and Food Festival programme:
The Big Lebowski
Kung Fu Panda 3
Back to the Future
Birmingham City Council
The Old Post Office
Birmingham Brewing Company
Sliced N Diced
Partners we are working with in forthcoming Film and Food Festival:
Birmingham Brewing Company
Birmingham Brewing Company
Cinema for All
Partners we are working with for forthcoming outdoor screening in Cotteridge Park:
Friends of Cotteridge Park
Budget in brief
The pop-up picture programme was funded by Birmingham City Council Community Infrastructure Level Funding. This was broken down as follows:
Website cost for 12 months - £180
Baths room hire for 12 times a year (monthly Friday Feature) - £360
Beanbags and Cushions - £440
Screen - £68
Projector - £535
DVD/Bluray player - £65
Speakers - £100
Black out curtains - £60
Posters / pull up banners - £103
Flyers - £27.99
Beermats - £323.82
Social Media Advertising - £45
Having a programme that appeals to a variety of audiences whilst maintaining a core offer of films that are well known and popular to ensure regular customers return.
Being able to offer an affordable price for our screenings – at £6 we are more affordable than many commercial cinemas.
Hosting events in new venues that attracts new audiences and allows us to offer a unique experience and less traditional film screenings.
Developing a strong brand that we use across all our social media.
Publishing our own podcast which provides a unique offer from a community cinema.
Successful funding applications that have allowed us to purchase new equipment and spend money on marketing.
What has been difficult
Some of our screenings have been less popular – events in January for example and in some instances, we have struggled to cover the cost of the licence through ticket sales. We have overcome this through programme planning a number of months in advance, allowing for a longer time period for marketing and money saving through advertising a whole programme rather than singular events.
It can be a challenge to find the licence for some films, especially those which are produced by screening companies such as Netflix. Building a network of contacts has been really helpful as we can often find someone who can offer advice on where to get licenses from.
Finding the time as volunteers to meet our aspirations is often a challenge – we are still working on this!
What you would do differently if you did it again
We have learnt to balance popular films with more independent/art house/foreign cinema so we can use profits from some events to cross subsidise other screenings, especially charity events or topical film screenings.
We have moved towards downloading films rather than purchasing DVDs in a bid to reduce our carbon footprint.
We have looked to run a family friendly screening in our upcoming programme and have met with older people’s networks to understand what barriers our elderly community face in accessing our events. This is with the aim of further increasing the diversity of our audience.
Awareness / Attitudes
We have screened several topical films such as Sorry We Missed You and Blue Jean which reflect issues around workers rights and LGBTQ+ issues which could have help raise awareness. Ensuring we have at least one film in every programme we have (we usually programme for 3 or 4 months at a time) is a charity event that raises awareness of issues the team feel is important is a crucial part of SOC.
The pop-up pictures have widened our audience profile and we feel that our current audience reflects the profile of the local community. We have identified gaps in terms of younger audience members and the elderly, which we are actively looking to address.
Knowledge & Experience
Our volunteers have had exposure to new experiences and the opportunity to gain new knowledge. This has included for example, website editing, podcast recording and operating film projecting equipment. We are always looking for new opportunities to expand the team’s expertise through training or teaming up with others, such as supporting Flatpack with an outdoor screening in August.
Our events bring the community together and we have recently started having Social Screenings where we head for a drink after the screenings and invite the audience along to talk about the film. This has been really successful and has added a real community element to the cinema.
We have met with an over 50s networking group and are looking to tackle some of the issues that prevent them from attending our events including tickets sales online and feeling safe on the way to/from our events in the evenings.
It is proven that bringing people together has a positive impact on wellbeing. The cinema provides a role in offering an accessible place that is welcoming to all.
At £6 our events are affordable. The cinema also plays a role in the wider local economy. High streets are about more the retail and services, increasingly they need to provide a strong leisure and community offer. SOC has a direct role to play in supporting the high street. Firstly, through encouraging the use of Stirchley Baths by the wider community through our events. Secondly, through partnership working with those operating on the high street SOC can support the diversification of uses, providing a leisure offer and supporting the positive image of Stirchley.
What audiences said
Thank you for a lovely evening
Really relaxing, good energy from volunteers
What professionals, press and partners said
Transforming the studio space into a cinema for the night in collaboration with Stirchley Open Cinema was awesome. The team made it such an easy and enjoyable experience from original contact right through to setting up the equipment and the actual film screening.
As a Yoga Studio with a passion for community, it was great to use the space to bring people together for an evening, and we would love to do it again soon!
ICB - CINEMA, BUT DIFFERENT: https://ichoosebirmingham.com/cinema-different