Watershed cinema audience
Posted by:

Mark Cosgrove Cinema Curator

on Tue 25 Jan 2011

A Manifesto for Independent Cultural Cinema

Posted on Mon 16 Jan 2012

A "manifesto" outlining the work and ambition of the independent Cultural Cinema Exhibition sector.

The independent cultural cinema exhibition sector exists to present the diversity of cinematic visions and experiences, to engage audiences in the richness of world film culture and to develop the UK market for independent cinema. We believe that presenting the diversity of world and UK cinema enriches our cultural and social lives as individuals within diverse communities. This is set against a background where UKFC statistics report 2010 says only 7% of screens are now dedicated to non-mainstream product.

What follows is an outline of what we, the UK independent cultural cinema sector, do, what our ambitions are and what we need to help us realise them for the benefit of diverse audiences. 

What We Do

The Independent cultural exhibition sector promotes and exhibits new films and filmmakers that would otherwise not be given exposure in the commercial mainstream.

We develop audiences and the market for specialised UK and world cinema creating a market for independent distributors and producers of independent film.

We are the R&D heart of the UK film industry: Andrea Arnold, Danny Boyle, Gurinder Chadha, Shane Meadows, Christopher Nolan, Michael Winterbottom are just some of the now international names who established themselves first in UK independent cinemas. 

For us, the screening of film is the beginning of a journey to engage audiences in a wider dialogue about ideas, creativity, diversity and the world around us.

Use the new digital environment to explore new ways to engage audiences. It places film within a continuum of creativity that makes engagement with cinema part of the wider cultural landscape.

Today’s multi platform environment widens the possibilities of engaging audiences and extending the depth and richness of the cultural experience.

Talent development is core to the independent exhibition sector providing entry routes and progression pathways for young aspiring filmmaker and creatives. Festivals and events hosted and supported by the independent sector create opportunities for nurturing, profiling and platforming new and emerging talent.

Engaging young audiences in media literacy activity is a core part of our activity and a key way of developing the audience for culturally and geographically diverse cinema. 

The independent sector brings alive the heritage of cinema, re-presenting the history of film to new audiences.

Independent cultural cinemas are important community resources and creative hubs.

What We Plan to Do:

Over the next three years the independent sector will work strategically to:

  • Provide a stronger exhibition platform for emerging UK filmmakers.
  • Develop cultural diversity with specific focus on developing audiences for under represented film cultures and communities e.g. African, Asian, Latin American, Caribbean and wider European.
  • Promote the heritage of cinema through archival strands and live music accompanying silent cinema – one of the ways film is becoming part of contemporary live performance and developing new audiences.
  • Engage young audiences in a wider diet of world and archival cinemas through work with schools, screenings and media literacy events.
  • Create wider engagement and participation in debate and dialogue with audiences through online publishing.
  • Provide a focus for artists moving image presentation in venue and online.
  • Provide a UK wide platform and profile for the next generation of talent.

What We Need:

  • A recognition that independent cinemas are vital to cultural diversity. 
  • A 3 to 5 year UK wide development strategy for independent Cultural Cinemas which has at its core the following: 
  • A cultural exhibition investment strategy that begins with the audiences’ right to access a wider diversity of cinema. To include; an audience development fund to support initiatives that bring culturally diverse films into distribution, generate UK wide touring initiatives and alternative cultural content.
  • An integrated fund across exhibition, distribution and education that responds to place based potential.
  • A capital programme to support digital infrastructure, development of additional screens and building new cinemas.
  • An innovation fund to support initiatives that develop exhibition into multiplatform environment, connectivity across cinema sites and shared cultural content.

Background References



Cultural Cinema Exhibition in the 21st Century
Mark Cosgrove 2011 http://www.watershed.co.uk/dshed/mark-article


Broadway, Nottingham
Cambridge Film Trust
Chapter, Cardiff
Cornerhouse, Manchester
Dundee Contemporary Arts
Eden Court, Inverness
Filmhouse, Edinburgh
GFT, Glasgow
ICA, London
Independent Cinema Office, London
KinoKulture Oswestry
QFT, Belfast
Quad, Derby
Regional Screen, Scotland
Roses Theatre, Tewkesbury
Roxy, London
Saffron Screen, Saffron on Walden
Showroom, Sheffield
Strode Theatre, Street
The Barn, Dartington
Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle
Watershed, Bristol

23rd September 2011