Historic Somerset Cinema Halts Screenings After Pandemic
Screenings have been cut and staff hours reduced at a historic cinema as it continues to try to balance the books after the pandemic.
Clevedon Curzon’s cinema bosses say the picture house is down 40% from what it was before covid.
The cinema – one of the oldest permanently purpose-built cinemas in the world – reopened in May when restrictions were relaxed.
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But he has yet to see business return to pre-pandemic levels.
Steps have been taken to mitigate the reduction in activity, including reducing the number of screenings per day from three or four to just two.
Staff hours have also been reduced.
The Grade II cinema was also forced to operate at reduced capacity during screenings due to the virus still circulating widely in the community.
Curzon Community Cinema General Manager Susannah Shaw said, “We are trading about 40% less than in 2018 and 2019.
“Our numbers are down, but there are reasons for it.
“Due to the pandemic, there aren’t that many movies to show.
“Although people are coming back to the movies, there are some who are still quite nervous.
“It’s a worrying situation, but we have put in place measures to try to mitigate this in order to allow us to reach the breakeven point.
“We are juggling continuously and it is not easy because we are losing a lot of income.”
Ms Shaw said cinema has seen a slight uptick recently thanks to the release of the new film Bond.
For the first time, the cinema has removed restricted seating – a decision they have now reversed due to the growing number of covids in the local community.
The cinema is also diversifying its offer and showing more local films.
“We had a movie called Troublemaker the other week and it was sold out, despite having a small audience,” Ms. Shaw said.
“And as a positive point, we are also seeing more and more people coming to Curzon from further afield, eager to see what we, as a smaller place, are and to know more.”
The cinema has also organized live comedy shows with the aim of attracting audiences.
“It’s been tough, but we think we’re on an upward trajectory now,” Ms. Shaw said.
“However, if there is some other form of foreclosure, especially without a retention program, it could be the last nail in the coffin.”
Volunteers also continued to play their part in supporting the cinema, which opened in 1912.
“We couldn’t do without our volunteers,” said Ms. Shaw.
“The ticket sales alone cover our overhead costs and it’s the kiosk and bar money that keeps us afloat, which are managed by our team of volunteers.
Last year the cinema also embarked on an exciting £ 70,000 project to reopen the Balcony.
The “Bring Back the Balcony” drive will see the area, which has been private since 1972, redeveloped – and allow the cinema to increase its capacity by 30%.
The plans include new lounge style seating combined with a nod to cinema heritage with refurbished cinema seating, made larger and more comfortable.
The fundraising target is now just £ 15,000 and it is hoped that work will start in January while raising the final funds needed.
“We have more hope for next year,” added Ms. Shaw.
“We hope the new balcony area will attract new and loyal customers to the Curzon for a different kind of experience.”
Anyone wishing to learn more about the balcony project and make a donation can click here.
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