Cash boost to keep the town cinema rolling

MORPETH’S fledgling community cinema has been given a boost to the tune of £500.

The Greater Morpeth Development Trust (GMDT) is leading attempts to establish a monthly film showing in Morpeth Town Hall.

But while the first two screenings have been sell-outs, external funding for the venture has come to an end and organisers are desperately seeking support to keep up the momentum.

The trust applied to Morpeth Town Council to waive its booking fee for the Town Hall Ballroom, where the films are shown.

Coun Nic Best said: “This is not so much an application for funding as an invitation to get involved in a partnership.

“The first two or three films we have got with assistance at a reduced rate so they are costing a lot less and it does look as though the scheme has been successful, but going into next year the costs of equipment hire and film licences are going to be going up dramatically.GMDT is asking for a waivering of the Town Hall charges.”

However, members of the council’s Finance and General Purposes Committee said it is policy not to waive charges.

While councillors were keen to support the project, they had concerns about awarding a grant as they have already backed the trust through subsidies and smaller sums for specific initiatives.

Coun Ken Brown said: “I have got no problem with the community cinema and I think it is something we should be encouraging and supporting, but I’m a little bit concerned that this is another piecemeal attempt to get money.

“I’m a little bit concerned that we will keep getting drip-fed initiatives like this if we don’t have a more co-ordinated approach to it.

“I propose that we do fund this, but we need some assurance from GMDT that we have the full package of its requirements and there is not going to be another project coming up next week. I would like some assurance from the trust that it has got its whole plan together for the next 12 months and we won’t continue to get requests like this.”

Coun Les Cassie suggested awarding a start-up subsidy of £500 to the project.

“This is a start-up initiative for a new idea of can we run a community cinema in Morpeth and can it be viable?” he said.

“I would be quite happy to support it for a year and see what happens. If at the sixth time a film is on at the Town Hall and it gets a big turnout it starts to seem like something that people will support as opposed to being a novelty, but if we get to May and only 40 people are turning up that is never going to break even. Let’s give it some help to get it going.”

Coun Richard Thompson was fully behind the proposal.

“I don’t know very much about the cinema, but compared to Alnwick we haven’t got a lot in Morpeth, which is something I find disappointing,” he said.

“I think we should do our very best to try to assist this venture and do what we can to help it continue because it is easy for these things to fold.

“If 100 people are using the Town Hall and it is predominantly rate payers in Morpeth that is a big social event for us and it is to be applauded.”

The committee awarded a start-up subsidy of £500 to help cover the room hire charges.