Aberfeldy’s own Birk Cinema will receive £63k from a grant aiming to keep Scotland’s independent cinema doors open.
The money comes from the Scottish Government’s Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund which the Government says ‘will now support these cinemas who can operate in the short-term, within Scottish Government guidelines.’
Board member, Anna Brocklehurst, said: “We’ve had a period since lockdown where we’ve had to think radically about how we stay alive, about how we keep the cinema-going.
“And then we had some brilliant news just this week from Screen Scotland, where we were granted a £68,000 grant to help us to do just that. To help us to keep the cinema here in the heart of the community.
But Anna Brocklehurst says that the grant is only part of the way there towards helping the cinema carry on its service, she wants to thank everyone in the community for their ‘amazing support’.
Mrs Brocklehurst added: “As well as that, across the area since probably February March, since lockdown, we’ve had amazing support from the community in terms of fundraising, messages of support and general contributions as well.
“And that has totaled to around about at least £40,000, so altogether it means the cinema’s in as good a place as it can be as we go into the unknown once again.”
Now that restrictions have eased since the initial March lockdown, the cinema is continuing to run ‘independent films and classic matinees’ at specially selected times.
The money contibuted towards the cinema is aimed to pay for their ‘main costs’ around staffing and distributors so that the cinema can ‘cover its costs.’
With the restrictions constraining what the cinema can do, the trust has had to look at the opportunities available to them saying ‘it is all about innovation and diversification.’
A spokesman for the board said: “For instance, we’re really excited to announce the imminent launch of our Birks Streaming service.
“We will be the first Scottish cinema to import a concept from New Zealand where film lovers can support their favourite cinema with a professionally curated programme of films that you would not otherwise have the chance to see.”
Their streaming service hopes to include people in the community who would otherwise be unable to come into the cinema, if, for instance, they felt uncomfortable or unsafe visiting.
Mrs Brocklehurst added: “We very much see the streaming service as a second screen for us.
“We’ll be one of the few cinema’s in the country using it in the UK, we’re importing it from New Zealand, and it will work exactly as other major downloading services work at the moment.
“You’ll just log into your Birks cinema account and you’ll be able to download a curated programme of films and possibly live events as time goes on from there.”
Alongside the launch of the streaming service, the team behind the cinema also plan a ‘major re-fit’ of the cafe and add a stronger focus to the community activities going forward.
Reflecting on the community effort to support the cinema, Mrs Brocklehurst, said: “The last thing really to add is a huge thanks to everyone who’s supported us once again.
“It’s been amazing to see the apatite locally for the cinema, ensuring we’re still here, it’s been brilliant in terms of the funding and the fundraising from individuals within the community, people all over the world and some local funds as well.
‘As a rural community cinema, our role is really important’ says Mrs Brocklehurst, adding ‘and we want to be there so everybody has access to film, to arts and to somewhere they can meet and feel safe.’