Thursday, 8 June 2017

Increasing Access to Cinemas



Increasing access to Cinemas

I am also working in collaboration with the BFI Film Audience Network (BFI FAN), led by Film Hub Wales and Chapter (as the Welsh Hub Lead organization) to support accessible cinema for underserved audiences across Wales and the UK.

In Wales, we brought together three venues (Chapter, Pontio and Theatr Clwyd) with Film Hub Wales, Public Health Wales, and the Alzheimer’s Society to develop a joint pilot of supportive screenings. The team are also supporting training of cinema staff, so that cinemas and arts centres can become dementia friendly. So far:
·      Over 100 cinema staff have received dementia training by attending Dementia Friends Sessions
·      Film Hub Wales (Chapter Arts, BFI) has run two diversity training days to support film venues across Wales to diversify their audiences and make sure their screenings are welcoming to community groups who don’t currently use their venue includes a session on creating dementia friendly communities.

The Team

Ellie Russell, Dementia Project Officer
Ellie’s role is to develop and deliver a year round programme of dementia-friendly film screenings and supporting events, both at Chapter and at venues across Wales. Ellie has a PhD in Psychological Medicine and has worked as a Research Psychologist, Mental Health Coordinator and Wellbeing Manager for various organisations. Ellie comments:

“I’m so excited to be working on this project, and to have the opportunity to play a role in breaking down some of the barriers that can prevent people with dementia leading full and rich lives. I believe that cinema should be accessible to all, and that promoting inclusivity and embracing diversity has the power to enrich the lives of everyone in society.  I’ve seen how isolating a dementia diagnosis can be, both for the person living with dementia and for their families and friends, and I love the way our screenings provide a relaxed, supportive and inclusive environment for people to come together to enjoy some really fantastic films.  I feel so lucky to be working on the Dementia Project at Chapter, and can’t wait to develop it even further.”

Toki Allison
Toki is the Film Audience Network Access Officer hosted at Chapter on behalf of BFI FAN by Film Hub Wales. Her role builds on a number of accessible schemes for venues and audiences developed since 2013, including the establishment of the Queer Film Network UK, the Contact a Family Kite Mark and Opening Doors, a training event designed to support exhibitors with accessible screening models.

Toki whose background is in marketing, audience development, film programming and event production, will develop a pool of UK resources, links, case studies and guides for audiences with additional needs, with long term goals to develop year-round events, training and national opportunities. Toki comments on her appointment:


​"Honestly, I can't imagine a better use of my time than to be a cog in the process of making cinema accessible to anyone and everyone. For me, films trace a path through my life, and some of the feelings and connections I've had with characters and stories have had a true and deep impact on me. I feel like everyone should have the chance to experience this and, also, the entertainment and escapism that film can offer. Cinema should be for everyone and making that a reality doesn't have to involve mammoth, expensive changes for venues and staff – in many cases, it can simply come down to better communication, and a few tweaks."
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