CIVIL WAR has broken out at the Rio. In the heat of the Covid-19 crisis, a protest group is attempting a boardroom coup at the charity-run cinema. The secretive protesters — none is named — fear the board wants to sell it to a commercial chain.
On their site the Rio revolutionaries say the Dalston cinema is “a rare gem” but its trustees do not reflect the borough’s ethnic makeup. However, “some excellent local people” are standing by to volunteer for the board until elections at the AGM.
The protesters allege the trustees are not interested in the Rio’s “brilliant” community activity, and want to make staff redundant — during the coronavirus pandemic when unemployment is hitting record levels.
The trustees, or non-executive directors, most of whom work in business/the City, responded to Loving Dalston’s questions to chairman Andrew Brooke about the protest by sending members almost 1,400 words of small type denying they have considered selling the Rio.
The email, which the protesters described as “evasive and wishy washy” did not say the trustees never would sell.
The campaigners want “your help to save our beloved Rio Cinema” from its board. They contend that despite the Rio’s financial and staff-relations crises, including a continuing failure to pay the London Living Wage, the cinema is not in bad financial health because “staff, led by executive director Oliver Meek, have been [doing] fundraising activity and getting donations and grants… without having to leave its charitable status behind” or changing the staffing structure.
Other cinemas are busy preparing to open on Saturday 4 July 2020, but who is readying the Rio? Meek’s only comment to Loving Dalston was “The Rio board of trustees are now making all decisions regarding the future of the cinema”.
David Altheer 250620
* If you want to help the anti-boardists, download the forms via this link, then email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.If you want to support the other side, go to the Rio site or write to the board at the Rio, 107 Kingsland High Street, Dalston E8 2PB
* Backstory: Rio fails to keep out union out; Hackney group makes theatre work for the young; Rio workers strike; Union reports Rio to adjudicator; Boutique cinema opens in Clapton; Multimillion-pound truth about Picturehouse; Mr Rio quits; How Hackney Picturehouse got its premises for a penny
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