THE RIO CINEMA is in financial trouble. It says its “funds are depleted”. Rio board chairman Patrick Lyons has told supporters that “to continue with our film programme”, £50,000 is needed.
Schools screenings, the Saturday Morning Children’s Picture Club, pensioner matinees, parent-and-baby screenings, sessions for hearing-impaired viewers and late-night specials were under threat, he said.
Lyons pleaded for “any amount… large or small… to keep Hackney’s oldest independent cinema trading”.
He blamed cultural funding cuts, saying that “very few grants or subsidies are available these days for a totally independent cinema like the Rio”.
The one-screen cinema has been reeling under the onslaught of the now-multinational-owned Picturehouse group, which has several theatres within reach of Hackney residents, and the Barbican, which has opened new screens on the borough’s southern border. Both have ultra-comfortable seats, stylish bars and other facilities that the Rio cannot afford, not to mention marketing budgets to make subscription buying highly attractive.
Neither has the Rio solved the problem of its interior space, under-using its basement and handsome art-deco street-facing first floor, and not leasing any premises near by for another screen.
Far from the cinema progressing as a charity and community-based business, “repairs and refurbishment to the building’s exterior and interior,” Lyons admits, “are long overdue”.
The cinema has survived many crises. In the case of this one, the least fans can expect is a ticket price rise.
Since the Rio chairman’s shout-out, the Hackney Picturehouse has been screening a Volkswagen ad. Any Hackneyite will notice immediately that it was filmed in the Rio. Now that’s cheeky programming.
David Altheer 200913
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