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Phoenix receives £237,000 government funding to shore up independent cinema recovery

Phoenix cinema and art centre in Leicester has been awarded £237,767 from the Government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

Administered by the British Film Institute (BFI), the Cultural Recovery Fund is designed to support independent cinemas across England whose businesses have been unavoidably interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Phoenix is one of 202 independent cinemas across England being supported with £16 million in grants from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Phoenix’s funding award includes two components: a Business Sustainability Grant of £227,767 to underpin the charity’s business viability; and a one-off safety grant of £10,000 to help pay for the extensive alterations put in place to make the venue safe for staff and audiences. As a major stakeholder, the BFI also provides Phoenix with ongoing funding to support its cinema programme and work with filmmakers.

Like most independent cinemas, Phoenix has been severely hit by Covid-19. Since March 17, the venue has been open only 29 days which has had a big impact on the many people who visit Phoenix to watch films, as well as on filmmakers and artists, and the many local businesses that supply the charity.

John Rance, CEO of Phoenix, said: “We started the crisis with sufficient financial reserves to cope with closure in the short term. But with an almost total loss of trading income over many months and the fixed costs of operating our venue we have been under mounting financial pressure.

“The Cultural Recovery Fund provides a welcome cash injection. Alongside the support we received from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, our customers, suppliers and stakeholders, we are now in a healthier position to welcome back film lovers safely to the big screen when the time is right.”

Ben Roberts, BFI Chief Executive, said: “Across the country, local independent cinemas are hubs and lifelines for communities and often the only form of culture and entertainment. From educational programmes and workshops for young people, to screenings for the elderly and audiences with specialised needs, these cinemas play such an important role in people’s lives. The Culture Recovery Fund will mean that many of these cinemas survive the current crisis, and go on to play a vital role in the recovery of local economies and communities, bringing people together to offer joy, solace and the magic of the big screen.”

When not impacted by Covid-19, Phoenix generates approximately 70% of its annual income from ticket sales, venue hires and its popular Café Bar.

In July 2020, Phoenix was awarded £195,000 by Arts Council England, another key stakeholder, through its Emergency Response Fund which was designed to help cover the costs of closure, and keep the venue safe and viable.


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