LONDON – 26 July 2010: A newly-formed consortium has been awarded Lottery funding by the UK Film Council to bring the latest in digital cinema to local venues across rural Shropshire.
The Shropshire Rural Cinema Pilot Scheme, which will run for three years, will be delivered by a consortium comprising regional screen agency Screen WM, Thomas Adams School in Wem (a Screen WM-supported media and film education hub providing educational activity for the local community), Borderlines Film Festival, DASh (Disability Arts in Shropshire), Market Drayton’s Festival Drayton Centre, renowned touring operation Flicks in the Sticks, rural arts centre the Ludlow Assembly Rooms, touring cinema Reels on Wheels and the new arts, learning, community and enterprise centre Wem Town Hall.
Backed with £400,000 of Lottery funding over three years, the consortium will purchase a combination of digital cinema standard projection equipment and high definition Blu Ray kit, which it will operate in easily accessed local venues across the region. Screenings are expected to commence later this year.
Rural communities will be able to enjoy a modern digital cinema experience, including 3D film screenings, live opera, theatre and sport satellite events beamed across the UK, without having to travel long distances.
Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Creative Industries and Communications, said: “We are a nation full of people enthusiastic about film and these people don’t just live in our big cities. This innovative approach is an exciting step forward in giving people who don’t have easy access to cinemas more opportunities to see top-class films, in a digital format, closer to home.
“Through this project people in rural areas could be seeing the latest blockbuster and new British films in a pop-up cinema, in the open- air, in a community centre or a town hall. Not only is this an imaginative way of making it possible for people to see a wider range of films, it’s also a great way of communities getting together to enjoy a unique cinematic experience with their friends, families and neighbours.”
Philip Dunne, MP for Ludlow, said: “I am delighted that Shropshire has been selected by the UK Film Council for this significant provision of improved cinema equipment. Having raised the issue when I was a member of the Public Accounts Committee and challenged the UK Film Council not to forget rural areas, it is particularly pleasing to see this constructive response to bring the latest cinema technology to venues in towns and villages in rural Shropshire.”
John Woodward, Chief Executive Officer of the UK Film Council, said: “Enabling people to get access to a wide range of films on the big screen is an important objective for us. Our research shows that there’s a big appetite for the cinema experience in rural areas, but in many cases it’s not being met. This experimental Lottery-funded scheme will bring together rural communities to watch films in 3D, to catch some of the latest releases, and to see specialist films as well as try out alternative cinema experiences like live opera, and big sports events using digital and satellite delivery.”
Councillor Steve Charmley, Shropshire Council’s Portfolio holder for Culture & Leisure, said: “This investment will significantly enhance Shropshire’s rural infrastructure: equipping a range of community based facilities and three touring schemes, establishing a new film education network for schools, whilst also providing customer services training and marketing support for all community venues involved in cinema. It is an incredible opportunity for the region, building on the track records of a range of partners and achieved through the excellent work of the consortium”.
Suzie Norton, Chief Executive Officer of Screen WM, said: “Screen WM is absolutely thrilled to be central partners in this hugely innovative and groundbreaking world first pilot. Over the next three years this pilot will bring cinema and live satellite events into rural communities that would otherwise be without”.
For more information on the scheme, visit www.ukfilmcouncil.org.uk/rural.