£16million is to be awarded to over 200 independent cinemas across the UK to help them battle the coronavirus crisis.
The money, awarded by the British Film Institute (BFI), comes from the government’s massive £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund, which was announced back in July and has helped thousands of music and entertainment venues since.
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Grants from the new round of aid range from £7,000 to £564,000, and a further £14m in grants is set to be awarded in the new year.
“Across the country, local independent cinemas are hubs and lifelines for communities and often the only form of culture and entertainment,” BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said of the funding in a statement.
“From educational programs and workshops for young people, to screenings for the elderly and audiences with specialised needs, these cinemas play such an important role in people’s lives.
“The Culture Recovery Fund will mean that many of these cinemas survive the current crisis, and go on to play a vital role in the recovery of local economies and communities, bringing people together to offer joy, solace and the magic of the big screen.”
Michael Caine, who strongly backed the funding, added: “The moving image has the power to change the way we think. The power to inspire; to delight; and to move. It happens to me all the time.
“Film is one of the most powerful and accessible art forms on earth — and for so many a local cinema is a place we know, love and have grown up with. A cinema is very often a vital part of any community and we need to support them in order to keep the art of film and the sense of community alive. Let’s go to the pictures!”
Across this year, the cinema industry has been hugely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Back in October, Cineworld temporarily suspended its operations in the US and UK, putting thousands of jobs – including 5,500 in Britain – at risk.
In the US meanwhile, dozens of prominent filmmakers recently signed an open letter warning US Congress that physical cinemas face extinction as a result of the pandemic.