Secret Cinema is a big London success story, regularly selling out its immersive screenings and slowly expanding overseas. But the popular experiential event organiser has run into some flak on home soil with its plans for an event – believed to be its ‘Dirty Dancing’ season – on a Walthamstow playing field this summer.
The season, which will take place from July 6 to September 12, has been given the go-ahead to run at Walthamstow’s Low Hall Sports Ground by Waltham Forest Council. But locals are complaining that the event will close off a green space for families and risk bringing infection to the area as cosplaying audiences flock in from across London.
There were a more than 100 objections, with locals arguing that the event would make the space ‘unusable for local children’ and raising concerns over disturbances by moviegoers who will be able to purchase alcohol on site.
Secret Cinema argues that the event will bring positive benefits to the community, and plans to provide local schools with access to the site during the day time – as well as giving away 1500 free tickets. ‘We put places on the map and then other businesses come in our wake,’ Secret Cinema chief executive Max Alexander told The Guardian. ‘We are itinerant but we leave a positive legacy with the people we engage with.’
‘Our proposed site would leave more than half the available space free for public use, with a clear parameter around the park,’ said Secret Cinema in a statement. ‘Leaving a positive lasting impact on a borough is a fundamental part of what we do. Our community projects include a diverse local engagement programme of employment, supplier and participation opportunities such as school workshops, site tours, family-friendly screening, training and work experience initiatives with the aim to offering paid employment on future productions.’
Secret Cinema’s ‘Dirty Dancing’ was originally due to run in 2020, but was postponed when the pandemic struck. It will run daily, except on Mondays, from July to September with ticket prices starting at £49.
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