Como, 16 October 1999



The East Midlands is home to four Regional Film Theatres (Derby - Metro; Leicester - Phoenix; Northampton - The Forum; Nottingham - Broadway). Although all share a commitment to develop film/media education to its full potential, there are huge dicrepancies of resources and delivery and each RFT, or arts cinema, has specific areas of need. Equally there are also mixed programme venues such as The Castle, Wellingborough and the Palace Theatre, Newark that wish to initiate Film Education projects, but lack the skills and resources to do so.

In a progressive and collaborative attempt to substantially increase Metro's educational output, the cinema as lead organization, together with the consultant successfully submitted a £94,470 bid to the Arts Council's Arts For Everyone Lottery Fund for an East Midlands Media Development Officer. Following the successful bid, the Network of cinemas in conjunction with East Midlands Arts, appointed a peripatetic Development Officer, Sue Porter who was at the Eurokids conference last year in Milan, to co-ordinate Film Education throughout the region, and thus deliver an additional level of educational and audience development activity to complement the current provision.

Sue Porter receives support from, and reports to, a Project Management Committee.

Clearly at venues like Metro or the Forum in Northampton, where there is no current education officer, educational development will be transformed and will be greatly enhanced at other venues. The 3-year project, starting in April 1999, has received partnership funding from Derby City Council and three other East Midlands local authorities and has generated a great deal of publicity, and some kudos, for Metro.

The aims of the Project are to encourage new audiences, especially young people, to experience high quality Arts activity particularly with reference to European cinema, and to facilitate and develop participation in the Arts from all communities. It is envisaged that the Project (entitled Viewfinder) will establish the East Midlands as a leading example of best practise in the field of Film Education.

In the first year, the Development Officer will work primarily with the four key RFT venues. All venues involved can see the benefits of the project, but are also aware of the need to concentrate on the quality of work rather than the quantity in the early stages. The venues all have clear ideas of the gaps in their education provision, but obviously appreciate that not all will be remedied via the Project. Thus the Officer in the first instance has needed to prioritise in consultation with RFT staff. The Officer will be expected to develop their own project ideas and if agreed, these may supersede those of the venue.

To carry out the events, the Development Officer has to sub-contract in additional specific skills and expertise and manage a creative budget for project development and delivery.

Currently all four RFTs carry out a certain level of education work and therefore Sue Porter has ready-made databases of local schools, colleges, community groups etc. for each of the four counties (these may well overlap). The venues have also set up Media Networks for each county consisting of teachers and community leaders in order that they can inform programming and network among themselves.

As this is a new post, co-ordinating a new project, Sue has initially found that she is spending a great deal of time developing contacts and putting in the groundwork for the future events and activities.

Events covering the whole region which have taken place or are planned so far, include:


In an attempt to reach young people traditionally denied access to cinema, Metro has linked up with the Royal School For The Deaf and Derby College for Deaf People, and other community groups to provide bi-monthly sign language interpreted screenings. The response has been extremely good from the city's Deaf community, which is 2.5 times grEater than in the UK average, and has now attracted sponsorship from Derbyshire Building Society, ensuring that signed screenings can be provided trough until the end of the year 2000.

Films signed so far include Hideous Kinky and Notting Hill, and will largely continue to British titles. When signed screenings are taking place, Metro screens trailers for sub-titled European films which are obviously accessible to the majority of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, this has resulted in customers attending signed screenings then coming back to the cinema for the European films such as Black Cat White Cat and La Vita è Bella.

Further programming for young Deaf people includes a school request screening of the German film Beyond Silence to mark European Day Of Disabled People this December.

As well as excellent audience development, the signed screenings have attracted a considerable amount of media coverage, thus raising the cinema's overall profile and may well now help to attract extra funding to expand the number of screenings.


Both projects demonstrate the ability of smaller organisations to be able to attract financial support for educational and cultural initiatives aimed at young people, through the effective use of networks locally and regionally.

I hope my talk has been informative, and offered some ideas which can be reproduced by other Euro Kids members, and I would be more happy to discuss either project with any interested cinemas.