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‘Biggest hearted cinema in Suffolk’ receives donation from director Richard Curtis

PUBLISHED: 14:46 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:51 05 August 2020

Leiston Film Theatre assistant manager Becky Nichols and general manager Wayne Burns are thankful for the donation from Richard Curtis (inset) Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND/IAN WEST/PA

Leiston Film Theatre assistant manager Becky Nichols and general manager Wayne Burns are thankful for the donation from Richard Curtis (inset) Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND/IAN WEST/PA

Charlotte Bond

Bosses at a Suffolk venue have said they are “extremely grateful” for donations they have received as they aim to recover from the coronavirus lockdown - including funds from film director Richard Curtis.

Leiston Film Theatre, like all cinemas, have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDLeiston Film Theatre, like all cinemas, have been hit by the coronavirus pandemic Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

Leiston Film Theatre was forced to close for 15 weeks over the lockdown and was unable to secure funding from the government’s arts rescue package as it is owned by the town council.

They turned to crowdfunding on JustGiving as a means of supporting themselves post-lockdown and saw the donations pour in - raising more than £1,600 in the 24 hours after the page went live.

Among the donators were Love Actually director Richard Curtis and his broadcaster wife Emma Freud, who live in Suffolk and are patrons and regular visitors of the theatre.

On the JustGiving page, the acclaimed couple described the venue as “the biggest hearted cinema in Suffolk”.

Cinemas in England were allowed to reopen at the start of July Picture: CHARLOTTE BONDCinemas in England were allowed to reopen at the start of July Picture: CHARLOTTE BOND

The cinema and theatre, in Leiston’s High Street, is battling to secure its future after the lockdown wiped out its income - with footfall remaining low in the first few weeks since it reopened.

The postponement of blockbusters such as Tenet and the latest James Bond entry No Time to Die have also forced the theatre into a rethink over how to generate income, with the entire release schedule for the year being scrapped as a result of the pandemic.

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Cinemas in England were allowed to reopen on July 4, but their visitors will be required to wear a face mask or covering from Saturday.

Wayne Burns, general manager at the theatre, said the film industry is “entering a new era” and wanted to thank all donators for helping support the venue through the crisis.

He said: “Richard Curtis and his family regularly visit us - they love the theatre.

“The money we have raised has really helped us in our battle. We cannot get government support as we are owned by the council.

“But the response to the JustGiving page has been incredible. We thought we would aim to raise £1,000, but we’re now pushing for £3,000.

“It has been a heartbreaking time for us. All of the major films have been moved and we had our whole year mapped out.

“We’ve worked hard over so many years to get where we are now. This money is the start of an ongoing process, and we will do whatever we can to support ourselves.

“We are extremely grateful for everyone who has dug deep, as we recognise purse strings are tight.”

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