Department of Marketing and Enterprise
SMALL BUSINESS AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP
“FLIX” - previously distributed week commencing Monday 22nd April 2013.
FLIX independent cinema
FLIX: The researcher’s story
I had wanted to carry out my research interview for a long time and looked forward to finding out why my local cinema had survived and apparently been successful despite a huge number of changes in its social and economic environment. I have lived in my present village location for thirty years now, raising my family. Over this time I must have taken my son and daughter to this cinema many times, as I had been taken myself when a child. There we had seen a huge range of material over that period, from Disney products onwards. Even more recently, when my son and daughter had come back from university for the weekend, we had gone to see the latest James Bond film. I had been struck then by how well presented the cinema building still was but also by how young the audience members now were. The experience reminded me that I hadn’t been for a while. To tell the truth, most of the films on now don’t really appeal to me. They are heavily focused on the youth market, contain lots of noisy CGI special effects and of course they don’t feature much good plot, dialogue or character.
Located in Johnstown, the nearby university town, the picture house is able to draw on an immediate population of 17,000 plus a wider catchment area. However the town’s population was highly seasonal, fluctuating not just round university terms but was also dominated also by tourism and sport-related visitors during the summer. In relation to other arts venues there was also a small local authority theatre. This was only a receiving theatre – in other words it didn’t generate its own shows but took acts and companies that toured theatres nationwide. This work was concentrated into several short seasons and the theatre was dark during the summer vacation. However the theatre operated as part of a fine leisure centre incorporating a coffee shop, and eating area which also showed art. Elsewhere in the town was a local authority operated art gallery showing art of an historic and regional nature; and there were three small contemporary art galleries, one owned and operated by the university and the other two privately owned. All of these in mounting their shows appeared to pay a lot of attention to the summer tourist trade. There was other arts activity also – classical music events from string quartets to chamber concerts; poetry and literature events; pop and folk music gigs; and more unfocused local activity demonstrating a wide range of interests.
A newcomer to the area, such as some of my friends when they came to stay, would comment that there seemed to be a strong focus on local sport and exercise through university, local schools and the general population. Plenty of pitches for football, rugby and hockey on the outskirts, and further out plenty of golf courses, with alternative pathways for walking, cycling and exercising dogs. There were even some relatively new businesses offering quad biking and similar pursuits. This gave the impression of a local community that was quite lively.
The cinema or picture house seemed therefore to offer a key role in the community. However for a more serious choice of entertainment, arts and performing arts elsewhere, town residents have to travel by car, train or bus. Transport links were limited. Half an hour to the north is a city of 150,000 offering two multiplex cinemas, an art house cinema and a medium sized production theatre. There are also many museums and a professional football team. An hour to the west is a major city with several multiplex cinemas and as many as five theatres, from small scale to large. Here there is a wider range of art galleries,...