Changes at Your Community Cinema

Last month, not-for-profit community cinema Saffron Screen was visited by an industry expert from the British Film Institute Film Audience Network, who conducted a review of the cinema’s key functions and offered advice on how it might continue to do well in a challenging environment. The verdict was that Saffron Screen is doing incredibly well considering its status as a not-for-profit part time venue but is working against a backdrop of rising costs, venue limitations, competition and increasing customer expectation. It remains vitally important for Uttlesford residents to continue to support the cinema so it can maintain its high standards, remain accessible to all and continue to offer a wide variety of films and live events at reasonable prices.

The expert’s findings along with a recent audience survey are being used by Saffron Screen to further improve the offer to its audience. Improvements include a regular Friday and Saturday night bar, the replacement of old and worn seats, a £20 matinee family ticket and allocated seating for most screenings. The cinema also hopes to raise funds for a box office and website upgrade which will improve the cinema experience for movie-goers.

Saffron Screen, now in its 11th year, attracts an annual audience of around 40,000 but relies on the support of volunteers and profits from refreshment sales, advertising, sponsorship and grants to subsidise its low ticket prices.

Chairman Paul Ainscough said:
“We are aware that we face challenges, particularly due to the restrictions of a shared venue as well as rising costs and competition. However, Mr Arnold’s audit of the cinema, particularly its marketing and programming function, is extremely positive. We are doing very well in comparison to some other small cinemas and our staff and volunteers are working extremely hard to bring new films and live events to our audience as soon and as often as they can within the confines of our mainly weekend schedule. We hope that local residents will continue to use Saffron Screen as often as they can. If everyone came just once more every year, it would make a huge difference to our sustainability and growth. Equally, we need the support of local businesses to allow us to flourish and invest in development and marketing”.