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Organisations that support community cinemas

Whether you’re looking for advice about starting a community cinema or need some support with one you’re already running, there are plenty of organisations that can help.

With over 1,500 community cinemas screening films all over the UK, there are many groups that will be able to offer lots of support, guidance and advice to community cinema operators at all levels of experience.

Whatever you’re looking for – financial or legal knowledge, marketing ideas, tips about the sort of films that might work in your area, or anything else to do with running a community cinema – take a look at the organisations below to see who’s best to speak to.

National community cinema support organisations

These organisations can help with… Advice and support about the formalities of community cinema, training courses and wide-ranging community cinema advice.

There are three key national organisations that give completely free guidance to help you develop your community cinema plans.

BFI Neighbourhood Cinema was launched in 2013 as part of the British Film Institute’s Film Forever strategy. Our team is committed to helping community cinemas bring more film screenings to communities that don’t have access to a traditional cinema. Take a look around our site for lots of information about what goes into running a community cinema, and please contact us with any questions or for support.

The BFI Neighbourhood Cinema team works closely with Cinema For All, which has been running since 1946. Cinema For All works with community cinemas and film clubs of all types, offering a wealth of practical guidance about everything from film and venue licensing, to sourcing funding and marketing your screenings.

It can loan equipment to new cinemas, and also has several membership options, giving community cinemas access to services like the Booking Scheme, offering films to book for lower rates. There are lots of regional Cinema For All groups, too.

The Independent Cinema Office (ICO) is another national organisation that shares expert knowledge with community cinemas. It was set up in 2003 to support and develop independent cinema all over the UK, also working with film festivals, film societies and community cinemas. Amongst other activities, the ICO runs training courses, advises on programming and formatting, and curates films that cinemas can book for their screenings.

If you’re looking specifically for funding and financial support, there are also lots of other organisations, such as the Arts Council or the Awards for All, which may be able to help.

The BFI Film Audience Network

These organisations can help with… Connecting you with other film-based groups in your area, joint initiatives, local knowledge.

The BFI Film Audience Network (FAN) is a national network made up of nine Film Hubs all over the UK. Each Hub includes a range of local film and events organisations that work together on film-based initiatives in their region, sharing advice and support with each other.

Each of the nine regional hubs is led by a Film Hub Lead Organisation (FHLO). If you’re involved in running a community cinema, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your local FHLO to see how your cinema might be able to benefit from their support and local knowledge.

Touring cinemas

These organisations can help with… Running screenings on your behalf, booking films for you, hands-on support, equipment loans.

Touring cinemas are regional organisations that travel to different local venues to host film screenings.

A small team will arrive with all the equipment needed to transform a space like a village hall, church or community centre into a cinema in just a few hours.

Individual touring cinemas operate in different ways, but most are able to offer a range of support and services – from hosting regular screenings, right through to supporting community cinema organisers in booking their films, getting licenses in place, and many other aspects of running a cinema.

Most touring cinemas charge on a per-event basis, meaning you can predict the exact costs involved with putting on a screening. If you’re thinking of setting up your own community cinema, you can also work with a touring cinema to run some test screenings first, or give you advice about funding sources in your area.

Even if you don’t need to use their services right now, it’s a good idea to get in touch with your closest touring cinema as they may have advice and guidance they could share. Take a look for the one nearest you.

Looking for a mentor?

Are you a new cinema organiser looking for someone to help make your cinema a huge success? Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to put you in touch with an experienced community cinema expert.