Kinokulture is a one screen independent cinema in the heart of Oswestry offering a mix of screenings, courses, talks and events around film culture. We spoke to Co Manager & Film Programmer, Ruth Carter, to find out what they’ve been doing behind the scenes to welcome audiences back to the big screen.

How was the opening weekend?
Re-opening weekend was a bit tense, very exciting and by the end of the weekend we were pretty worn out as we had spent the week before training up all of our volunteers and putting in the finishing touches but it was wonderful to welcome our audience back.

What were the biggest changes you've had to make since reopening?
In order to re-open safely we had to make a number of changes to the building. We took out a couple of rows of seats in the auditorium to make the rows much deeper. They are now socially distanced at 1 metre plus and we replaced the back row with five sets of two seater sofas which have panels separating them. We also unblocked a stairway so that we could enable a one way flow system through the building. The sofas in our bar/cafe area have been replaced with bubble booths so that customers in household groups or social bubbles can still enjoy a pre-show or interval drink and chat. A local artist has created beautiful panels within the booths reflecting our programming with a Tarkovsky booth, American movies, documentary and world cinema booths.

What kind of funding have you received since the pandemic hit, and how important has that been to surviving?
We were able to access the small business grant and also were incredibly grateful to receive funding through the BFI Resilience Fund. The funding has been key to helping us through the lockdown phase enabling us to do the hard work on the re-design, keep in touch with our audiences and volunteer staff and work towards developing the staff training and film the programme.

What was your approach to programming for the reopening?
We have taken a fairly broad approach to the reopening trying to maintain as diverse a programme as possible given that we are running a reduced amount of screenings in the first couple of months. September includes a mixture of films that we were about to screen before we closed such as Misbehaviour, The Call Of The Wild and Kinky Boots The Musical. We also have some lovely new releases including Summerland, 23 Walks and Away as well as our 10th Anniversary Season - 10 Films That Made Us Fall In Love With Cinema.

What are you most looking forward to showing on the big screen?
I am really looking forward to seeing the beautiful animation Away but also very excited about La Haine and Cinema Paradiso which are both part of our 10th Anniversary Season and I am also looking forward to Les Miserables.

Have you had much feedback from your audiences since reopening?
We have had some lovely feedback from our audiences, they have all said how wonderful it is to come back and that they feel safe and very supported by our staff and the measures we have put in place.

Do you think the pandemic will make people more appreciative of venues like yourselves? 
I feel that our audience has always been very appreciative of what we offer but yes I hope they will continue to be so. There is still so much uncertainty as to how long we will be able to remain open and with the reduced audience capacity the next few months will be critical but we are eternally hopeful and looking forward to 2021.

We have had some lovely feedback from our audiences, they have all said how wonderful it is to come back and that they feel safe and very supported by our staff and the measures we have put in place.

Ruth Carter, Kinokulture Co Manager & Film Programmer
The Tarkovsky Booth kinokulture
Tarkovsky themed bubble booth at Kinokulture

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