Film theatre's future is secure

The future of the Ipswich Film Theatre is secure - that's the message from Ipswich Borough Council's arts and leisure chief Judy Terry after a meeting of the authority executive.

By Andrew Clarke

The future of the Ipswich Film Theatre is secure - that's the message from Ipswich Borough Council's arts and leisure chief Judy Terry after a meeting of the authority executive.

After a second consultation exercise, lasting three months and focussed solely on the use of the film theatre, the council has agreed that there is still a strong demand for specialist film in Suffolk.

As a result of the consultation, the council has resolved to go along with the overwhelming public consensus of keeping the film theatre where it is in the Ipswich Corn Exchange for the short term, with a proposal of moving the facilities to a specifically designed new venue within the next 5-10 years.


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“It is clear there is still a huge demand for specialist film and the film theatre has a valuable role to play in delivering this service,” said Mrs Terry.

“But we have to realise that perhaps we are not the best people to provide these facilities. We certainly can't keep shouldering the losses it has been producing.

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“We need to deliver the sort of specialist film that the people want and provide it at a time that they want to view it.”

As a result she said that they would be seeking a commercial partner to help run the facility, who would be required to invest some money in the venue as well as reviewing the times the film theatre would be open and the types of programme on offer.

Corn Exchange manager Billy Brennan said that the time had come for them to take some radical steps in the programme.

“We need to be offering an even more wide ranging programme than we have now. We need to be offering all sorts of films to all sorts of people.

“We should be serving the Polish, Chinese and Portuguese communities in Ipswich as well as the Asian community which have supported our Bollywood movies so well.”

Mrs Terry said: “We need to get more films as soon as they come out, when the publicity surrounding them is at their highest.

“We need to recover the “cross-over”, more mainstream art-house films from the commercial sector - English language films like The Queen and Vera Drake.

“We need to promote education at the IFT. These are all factors we will need to be talking to our commercial partner about. It's time that we listened to what the audiences want.

“They want a greater variety of films and they want a more flexible screening programme. If we are not able to provide that service then we must find someone who can.”

Mr Brennan added that the addition of a digital projector, due to arrive in January, will make it easier and cheaper to show a wider variety of new films and cinema classics.

He said: “We need to increase our publicity and the profile of the film theatre without it costing us a fortune.

“We need to offer more flexible opening times - we need to open on Sundays and be available to show films on a Saturday evening - although this will mean discussions with other users of the Corn Exchange.

“But if we are serious about increasing attendances at the Film Theatre then we must be open at the weekends - the whole weekend not just at certain times as we are at present.”

The first step in having more flexible opening hours will come in a few weeks when in November the IFT will host its first mother and toddler screening.

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