It’s very tough times for cinemas – multiplexes and art houses alike – and tangible support is critical to help keep Britain’s independent picturehouses alive and viable as community hubs. Happily, communities are already rallying around their local cinemas in cockle-warming fashion. In some rare good news, London’s much-loved Lexi Cinema has just beaten its crowdfunding target to create a new community hub and build a second screen.
With the help of community crowdfunding platform Spacehive, the Kensal Rise cinema has raised £141,000 through donations from locals and local businesses, to augment contributions from Brent Council and the Mayor of London’s Crowdfund London initiative. The campaign launched earlier this year but has continued to gather momentum – and funds – even during the lockdown.
The Lexi Hub will be built from reclaimed materials and include a green roof and solar panels, promising to double the number of films the cinema can screen, as well as new activities for local schools, nurseries and community projects. The aim is to help tackle isolation and loneliness within the community.
‘We are blown away by the support and generosity of our community,’ says Lexi manager Rosie Greatorex. ‘Now we just want to repay the faith people have shown in us and create a space everyone can use and feel proud of.’
The Kensal Rise venue, the UK’s first social enterprise cinema, is staffed largely by volunteers and donates all its profits to charity. It hosts black history studies, a women-only refugee film club, a neighbourhood film school and events for LGBTQ+ seniors, carers and the hard of hearing.
Crowdfunding is taking shape as a vital tool to help London’s historic venues to survive the lockdown and the post-lockdown world. Already, The Royal Vauxhall Tavern, Stepney’s historic George Tavern, Soho’s legendary French House, and London’s oldest patisserie, Maison Bertaux, have launched fundraising efforts to stay afloat. Support them if you’re able to.
Time Out is backing two campaigns to help support London’s independent businesses in the post-covid world. Find out more here.
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