Silver screen set to stay in Kelso

Volunteers from the Kelso Community Cinema group.
Volunteers from the Kelso Community Cinema group.

The big screen is set to stay in Kelso after a pilot project was hailed a success by organisers this week.

The volunteers tasked with bringing monthly movie screenings back to the Tait Hall six months ago, have reflected on the pilot period, crunched the numbers and confirmed the cinema is here to stay.

Poster competition winner  Danny McMahon with runners up Becky McMahon and Hannah Ducker, with Verity Mutch and Eleanor Wood from Kelso Community Cinema.

Poster competition winner Danny McMahon with runners up Becky McMahon and Hannah Ducker, with Verity Mutch and Eleanor Wood from Kelso Community Cinema.

Group chairman Peter Cooper said: “The final film night of 2017 at the Kelso Community Cinema was a resounding success with nearly 300 people in total at the two films, and Paddington 2 attracting cinema goers of all ages.

“We are very pleased that the first four nights of the relaunched cinema have been so well received and would like to thank everyone in Kelso who has supported this venture, in particular our small team of volunteers who have worked hard work in the background to make it happen.”

The curtain went down on the screenings in March after Live Borders pulled out of a previous project. However, a group of townsfolk formerly involved and recognising the potential for success, reformed in June, determined to save townsfolk a 34-mile round trip to Galashiels to see films on the big screen. But it was always very much on a “make or break” basis for Kelso Community Cinema group, as it made clear to the town that if the pilot wasn’t supported and financially viable, the screenings would not continue past Christmas.

Treasurer Verity Mutch said: “I was initially nervous as the fixed costs of hall and equipment hire and licensing costs of recently released films are high for each screening and needed to be covered by ticket sales. To sustain the monthly films, we are relying on the continued support of the community and, subject to demand, our aim is to develop additional events apart from newly released film screenings.

“But it has been brilliant to work on this project and, thanks to the support of the Kelso community, be able to prove that the risks have been worth taking.”

A core team of 10 volunteers is looking for more people to get involved and is hoping new members, in particular youngsters, can offer ideas for one-off screenings.

Since the summer, the cinema has held four monthly screenings, showing a total of eight films, culminating with Friday evening’s bumper turnout at Paddingron 2.

The group had to sell 180 tickets a month to break even, but with the hall’s raised seats alone capable of holding 220, it always hoped for bigger attendances to secure the future of the project. Indy Cinema Group, a mobile screening company bringing mainstream movies to rural communities, covered the financial risk for the first screenings, but the buck will now fall entirely with the cinema group.

Group secretary Eleanor Wood added: “We want to be self-sufficient, and the long-term aim is to be showing one-off classics and having special screenings in between the monthly events.

“We very much want it to be for the community, and going forward, profits will go back into the community.

“Everyone involved has worked extremely hard to get to this point and we are grateful to all who have helped in any way- distributing posters, stewarding, setting up equipment and generally spreading the word. We are a small team of enthusiastic volunteers and seeing folk streaming into the Tait Hall as they did on Friday night makes it all worthwhile.

“To maintain the momentum and expand what Kelso Community Cinema can offer we are looking to bring on board additional volunteers, in particular younger people or those who could offer IT skills. We are keen to receive feedback and suggestions and aim to set up a Facebook page shortly to facilitate this. If you are interested in any way, please get in touch.”

The next screenings take place on Friday, January 26 with the child screening of Ferdinand at 5.15pm followed by Star Wars The Last Jedi at 7.30pm.

The group also held a post competition for Kelso primary school children in the run up the last week’s film, Paddington 2. The results from it were as follows: Overall winner – Danny McMahon, P4 Broomlands Primary School, and runners up – Becky McMahon, P7 Broomlands Primary School, and Hannah Ducker, P6, Ednam Primary School.

The cinema group is still looking for support and any businesses, groups or individuals able to help either financially or by volunteering can contact Peter by emailing: petercooper44@btinternet.com