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U.K. Exhibitors’ Body Calls for More Government Funding as English Cinemas Prepare to Close

U.K. Exhibitors’ Body Calls for More Government Funding as English Cinemas Prepare to Close

U.K. Exhibitors’ Body Calls for More Government Funding as English Cinemas Prepare to Close

British film exhibitors’ body, the U.K. Cinema Assn., has called for increased government funding in addition to the £30 million ($38.6 million) being disbursed by the British Film Institute Cultural Recovery Fund to independent cinemas.

Cinemas across England will close Nov.5 to Dec. 2 as part of the second national lockdown being undertaken to restrict the rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Wales and Northern Ireland are already in lockdown with cinemas shuttered, as are large parts of Scotland.

“The announcement that cinemas in England will be required to close from Thursday, coming as it does after similar decisions in Wales and Northern Ireland, and with almost all cinemas in Scotland likewise now shuttered, will be a further blow to the U.K. sector,” said U.K. Cinema Association chief executive Phil Clapp.

The existing furlough scheme, due to conclude at the end of October, has now been extended till December.

“While we welcome the extension of the furlough scheme, all cinemas will require additional funding support if they are to recover from this, the latest of a series of set-backs,” Clapp said. “While the announcement of £30 million of support for independent cinemas in England (and consequent announcements in the rest of the U.K.) was welcome, those venues need confirmation of their awards now, given the need for them to plan for continuing challenges over the coming months.”

“At the same time, we renew our call for government to support those larger cinema companies who are not eligible for the above funding, but are major employers in the sector, as well as making a hugely valuable contribution to their local communities,” Clapp added.

The Cineworld chain was already closed, following the postponement of James Bond film “No Time to Die” to Easter 2021. Many screens of the Vue and Odeon chains were operating on weekends only.

Employee collective, the Cineworld Action Group, tweeted: “With the announcement that furlough has been extended in light of the English lockdown, we call on @cineworld to do the right thing and place us back on the job retention scheme, with pay backdated to 16th October when the company placed the majority of us on unpaid leave.”

“Cutting us off from furlough two weeks before the original end date was in itself a callous decision. Indefinite unpaid leave places many staff members in extremely precarious financial situations. Being placed back on furlough would be a lifeline for us.”

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