Social entrepreneurs save Kidderminster cinema

A consortium of social entrepreneurs have come together to save the former REEL Cinema on Green Street, Kidderminster.

Following Reel’s shock announcement in March that they were closing the cinema, James Anderson Brown founder of The Mockingbird Cinema in Birmingham, together with Anthony Hughes and Eddy Morton, founders of Stourbridge Community Development Trust, stepped in to begin negotiations with the owners of the building.

James Anderson Brown said: “Cinema has been a part of the town since the turn of the 20th Century, it has always been a way to bring people together. The town used to have many Cinema Theatres such as The Grand Theatre, Royal Bijou and Empire right up to the Warehouse and Reel and these were always places to really spend a great night out in opulent surroundings that transported people from the everyday reality to a world of escape. This is why they were often called Picture Palaces and people really need that escape more than ever now.”

The new 4 screen cinema is currently being redeveloped and will offer a range of other community benefits alongside the cinema experience.

Anthony Hughes said: “We have formed a new community development trust for the town and will use the cinema as our first social enterprise to engage both film audiences and other community groups who will also benefit from the downstairs café and arts space.”

Eddy Morton added: “We really want to offer something to the whole community of Kidderminster through the various projects and initiatives. The space will not only be an amazing new independent cinema but a space for meeting, community activity and a great café for the local businesses, shoppers and specific groups to book for private event use.”

The cinema will be truly independent and, alongside the new blockbusters, will programme a range of themed screenings and events.

Anthony added: “It may seem like a difficult time to be taking on this sort of venture with many major releases being put back to next year, but we believe that we can meet the challenge. Many people really miss going to the cinema and can’t wait to get back to see films the way they were intended to be seen – on the big screen. With our strict social distancing procedures and meeting the guidelines of whatever the ‘new normal’ looks like when we open, we will offer a safe great quality experience for both film fanatics and general audiences across the region.”

James concluded: “With the closure of so many multiplex cinema chains and venues there is a huge gap in real cinema entertainment for both the town and the wider Wyre Forest. You cannot stream or download an experience like going to the cinema and we will be bringing back that classic experience in the way we develop the look and feel of the space.”