Lots of hope in the Rio report, less in the figures provided by the Dalston cinema bosses and board

Rio©DA0118: cinema Dalston 180118 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
The shining: in the heart of “the Strip”, the Rio is a hi-viz venue in Dalston

THE RIO CINEMA’S MANY FANS will be hoping the long-awaited second screen is getting the Dalston community organisation into shape.

The annual report indicates otherwise. Despite the RIOgeneration crowd-funder to save the charity business from closure, the report reveals troubles that would strain the optimism of a Mary Poppins

Among them are:

* an inadequate financial reserve;

* staff being disposed of just as a second screen comes into operation;

* falling admissions;

* outdated business concept;

* projectors requiring staff. Saturday Morning Kid’s Club is ended and cuts are made to the number of late-night screenings;

* slow rise in member numbers;

* continued non-payment of London Living Wage (“higher wages” is the Rio choice of Doublespeak).

Then there is a line, “loss of investment… £58,371”, re-expressed as “exceptional items” in the latest annual report (for the year to 31 March 2017) — after Loving Dalston raised the topic with chairman Patrick Lyons and its auditor. Is substituting one obtuse term for another how a community cinema should talk to stakeholders?

Lyons hailed the cinemas’s fundraising of £125,000 last summer 2017, including £40,000 from London Mayor Sadiq Khan (who, like Hackney council, somehow suspends his London Living Wage campaign when it comes to the Rio).

Lyons commented: “This was both the most ambitious and most successful fundraising exercise ever undertaken using Spacehive’s platform.”

One wonders what the 293 supporters, whose average donation was more than £400, would think about Rio management spending about£50,000 to get rid of loyal staff.


RioTree©DA17: Christmas tree at Rio Cinema Kingsland Hi St Dalston London 011217 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Charity at Christmas: this tree was a modest donation to the Rio Cinema last year 2017

The report lists many excellent initiatives, including an attempt to use more locally sourced food and drink and ecologically acceptable cleaning products (in a gibe at departed manager Charles Rubinstein the new regime cattily notes that “most of the old products we stocked were not even recyclable”) and a sellout performance by Father John Misty.

As for the problems, manager Oliver Meek reports that he is tackling them.

With limited resources, he is learning just how difficult that will be, although he seems to have tamed the union. Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union official Helen Ryan told Loving Dalston: “The Rio is committed to working with us with a view to introducing the London Living Wage.

Strike pic supplied by the Save The Soul of the Rio group
Strike demonstration at the Rio in 2016. Pic supplied by the Save The Soul of the Rio group

“We are seeking longer hours on short-term contracts and are meeting the Rio.”

Asked when, she said: “In the New Year.” She was unable to be less vague.

Over at the equally folksy and equally ruthless Picturehouse in Mare Street, Hackney, Bectu members are still struggling for the London Living Wage.

Under pressure from owner Cineworld, they toned down a series of strikes due to start last weekend.

David  Altheer 190118

* The Rio will hold its annual general meeting at the cinema, 107 Kingsland High Street, Dalston E8 2PB (020 7241 9410), on Sunday  28 January 2018 at 11am.

* Backstory: Pledge too far for the Mayor; Workers or board: choose, says E8 cinemaUnion reports Rio to adjudicatorRio manager says pay is higher than at other cinemas; Rio fails to keep out unionMr Rio quits

Strike Cineworld staff demonstrate @ Hackney Picturehouse Mare St 181116 © DavidAltheer [at] gmail.com
Strike: Hackney Picturehouse staff protest about low pay at the Mare Street cinema
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One thought on “Lots of hope in the Rio report, less in the figures provided by the Dalston cinema bosses and board

  1. “This was both the most ambitious and most successful fundraising exercise ever undertaken using Spacehive’s platform, PERIOD! Both in person and around the globe.”

    * That is is the gist of what the Rio AGM stated but the claim was not included in my article because it was getting too long and I was unable to make the time to confirm it or to assess the fundraiser’s significance. So thank you for highlighting it in your terms and please accept my apology for the late posting because of insufficient resources. — Editor

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