Seaford Rotary and the Seaford Community Cinema

30th January 2019

SEAFORD Community Cinema became operational in September 2012. We were fortunate in receiving a Lottery Fund grant for £10,000 and support from Sussex Community Foundation for start-up publicity. Then we were on our own! Overheads were always high with rent for our venue at the Barn Theatre, licence fees for the films (regardless of audience numbers) and ongoing publicity costs.

From the start, we were determined to make it a Community cinema and reach out to all Seafordians – and that included the elderly and children. So, a Saturday matinee was important to us. Our early attempts at children’s films were not successful and we realised that home videos and rental channels were big competition. Older people, especially those in Care Homes, however, welcomed the idea of a Saturday afternoon outing, and this is where Rotary Club of Seaford came to our assistance!
Rotarian Keith Blackburn introduced me to Bill Pierce and our first contact was in December 2014.
Bill and I met in early 2015 and had an interesting chat on films and local screenings. He was involved in a film club in his home community of Piddinghoe. That sealed the deal! Quickly the Rotary Club of Seaford offered to sponsor matinee tickets and distribute them to local Care Homes, and that was the beginning of the very successful liaison.
Over a period of 4 years (the fifth one has just started), Rotary Club of Seaford has bought and distributed 30 tickets at the group rate of £5 a ticket for each of the 4 matinees during a screening year. During this time, matinees have developed into our happiest and most well appreciated screenings. People arrive in Rotarian’s cars – Steven Willox twice brought a 100-year-old lady to a screening! CTLA has been involved in transport too. Other recipients of the free tickets arrive in little groups where fellow Care Home residents walk the short distance to the Barn Theatre in the centre of town.
Once there they know that they will receive a warm welcome, a cup of tea and when fortunate enough cake as well! There are always enough friendly volunteers present to look after these guests. Our normal custom is to distribute Audience Reaction slips and collect them up at the end of the film. My records show that ratings for matinees are almost always high – and we have screened a wide variety of films to include Golden Oldies, Musicals, drama and documentaries. In 2016 ‘Sing Street’ was our most popular film of the season with an amazing 98% score. That means virtually everyone thought it was excellent! Now that can mean a number of things, but of one thing we can be sure, the matinee audiences love these occasions where they can socialize, be looked after and have a stimulating topic of conversation to take away with them.
The cinema has gone from strength to strength over the years. In 2015 we purchased an expensive satellite dish and contracted to receive National Theatre Live transmissions throughout the year – and at a time when Southern Rail could not be relied on to transport us to and from London on an evening, this was a wonderful theatrical opportunity.
We had our first film festival last Summer to offer Seaford a weekend of film, workshops by inspiring speakers and a delightful outdoor screening where Rotarians used their superior organising skills with car parking. We keep maintaining and updating our projection equipment and are in the process of updating the sound system where we hope we can include a Hearing Loop system.
We do feel established in Seaford now BUT all these things are costly so as ever, we need to have a contingency fund and be prudent. So please keep supporting us. I think we are a good ‘value-added’ recipient of your hard-won funds!
After 7 happy years as a founder committee member I stood down last December. Wendy Milborrow has taken over as Community Liaison Manager - so wishing you all a very happy continuation, full of new ideas for future cooperation!
The next matinee will be on Saturday 23rd March 2019 at 2:30 pm when’ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ will be the film being shown.

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