The cinema industry is driven by data and statistics. But these provide only a partial glimpse at the contribution of cinema. Local and independent cinemas are recognised as providing a widely enjoyed communal experience, and space for contemplation, inspiration and debate. But what does local cinema mean to the audiences that come together to enjoy film? How satisfied are they with their local cinema experience? And what economic, cultural and social benefits arise for individuals and communities? This exploratory study set out to examine these and other questions.
This was a very significant piece of research indeed; the most comprehensive look yet at the role and contribution of local cinema. The study included:
- A rapid review of previous research literature on film exhibition and its impact on audiences and communities.
- Scoping interviews and discussions involving a range of bodies active in stimulating and supporting film exhibition.
- Site visits and semi-structured interviews with 12 selected film exhibitors, representing a broad cross-section of local and independent cinema.
- An online survey of audience members associated with the 12 selected film exhibitors. This yielded 3,442 responses.
The study suggests that the death of cinema has been greatly exaggerated! Across all sorts and sizes of communities, audiences were found to love and value the shared screen experience. The report describes the importance that these audiences attribute to cinemas in relation to the neighbourhoods, towns and villages in which they live. Crucially, it has revealed the influence and impact of cinema in a number of respects – to culture, wellbeing, community, learning, heritage and the local economy. These represent a broad set of outcomes that have traditionally proven difficult to count, evaluate and compare, making this new research a valuable foundation for wider research into the social value, not just of local cinema, but of other forms of cultural provision.
“By working with Social Value Lab, what started out as an idea for a quick and informal survey became instead a powerful and influential study which will shape our work at Regional Screen Scotland for some time to come. Thanks to Social Value Lab’s clear design and structuring of the questionnaire we had a huge response to our online surveys, making this one of the largest, and therefore most significant, pieces of research into the social impacts of local cinema. The resulting report benefitted greatly from Social Value Lab’s clear and objective analysis, and the quality of their layout and design. This has been a highly productive, enjoyable, and hopefully ongoing partnership!”
Robert Livingston, Director, Regional Screen Scotland
Download a copy of the full report here.