Funding boost for independent Sheffield cinema

Written by Sophie Henderson

An independent cinema in Sheffield has received a grant of £292,836 to help rebuild the business following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Light is located on The Moor in the city centre and is one of ten cinemas in the chain to receive a share of £2.9 million in funding from the first round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund. 

The cinema has been closed for the majority of the pandemic but briefly reopened between August and November last year. 

Keith Pullinger, deputy chairman and founder of The Light Cinemas, said: “Covid-19 has devastated our finances and this grant is essential to protect our future and ensure our survival. There is still a lot of work to do, but we now have a platform to start rebuilding our business from. Our landlords and suppliers will need to play their part but this will help protect the jobs of the 220 people who are employed at our cinemas.”

The Light is one of 33 independent cinemas to get a share of the latest grants, allocated by the British Film Institute on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

A total of 207 independent cinemas have received a cash boost from the £1.57 billion fund so far, 83 percent of which are outside London. 

However, researchers at the University of Sheffield say while the funding is welcome, the future of the city’s cultural sector remains unclear.

“We cannot take this to indicate that all is well in the cultural sector or in the city region, however, and the recovery is still very much uncertain”, said Jason Slade, a Research Associate working on the ‘Responding to and modelling the impact of Covid-19 for Sheffield’s Cultural Ecology’ project. 

“Whilst the Culture Recovery Fund has been a lifeline for those who have received it the wider picture is still bleak”, he added.

Mr Slade said lockdowns and social distancing guidelines have had an “enormous” impact on cinema. 

The group’s first survey of Sheffield’s cultural venues in the months leading up to September 2020 found turnover was, on average, 68 percent less than projections, with footfall down by 98 percent.

“Our project is keen to make the point that the impact is not just about individual venues though. The cultural ecology of Sheffield and the wider city region is incredibly complex and there are knock-on impacts on a large range of freelancers and self-employed people.”

Written by Sophie Henderson

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