Ten years ago Tideswell Film Club was just starting out as a new venture in the village’s school hall.
Now renamed Tideswell Cinema, the thriving community arts venue is one of the most popular in the county.
It runs an annual season of films from September to May as well as world class live arts broadcasts from the National Theatre, the Royal Ballet, Opera House and Shakespeare Company as well as the Kenneth Branagh Theatre and other venues.
Its success is all down to the hard work of the volunteers who live in the village and have a passion for film, theatre and dance and, of course, the 420-strong mailing list of supporters as well as Andrew Rowe, the landlord of the George Inn, where they are now based.
Barbara Crossley, who is one of the current volunteers helping out with front of house tasks and the administration, says everyone’s contribution is vital to keep the organisation going. Now they have the live broadcasts they particularly rely on the technical know-how of Paul Harrison who leads a team of three technicians and IT experts.
“The original idea came from resident Fiona Rogers, who is involved with Tideswell Community Players, back in 2005 and she was helped by other film enthusiasts to get it going. We still work in partnership with the players,” explained Barbara.
“What we could offer people really improved when we moved from the school to the George in 2009 as now people can have a pre-show meal and order interval drinks if they wish.
“When one of our members was on holiday in the south west he saw a live show from the National Theatre linked by satellite to the small community and he instantly thought it would work here.
“We had a fundraising campaign to buy the necessary equipment and we began screenings in September 2012. We actually think we were the first community cinema to do so and are really quite proud of what we have achieved.”
Jacqueline Teeney who runs the box office says that last year 1,782 people watched one of the live events and that they regularly sell out as they have just 60 seats.
“The figures are amazing – it seems people like the cinema being in the pub. I get e-mails from people every day for bookings. If they are new to us they ask about the seats and I always say that although it is not the Ritz, the seats are better than pews and school chairs,” she said with a laugh, adding that most regulars now bring a cushion.
One of those regulars is Fil Radford who started going along when the club moved to the George. She said: “I never thought I would be able to watch films let alone the ballet and theatre so close to home. I can’t praise them enough – the facilities are so lovely.”
There are currently 55 members who pay an annual fee for free entry to the films and seven days’ advance notice to book the live events.
The live events are open to everyone and the group charge the minimum they are allowed under the broadcasting rules which is generally £10 for theatre and £15 for the opera and ballet.
“This means that our largely rural audience can see world class productions close to home at a fraction of the cost of going to London or Stratford,” said Barbara.
On February 25 you can see As You Like It from the National Theatre.
This month’s film on February 18, is Le Havre, a Finnish film made in French, which is a topical comedy about a young African boy who arrives in the French port hidden in a shipping container. On Oscar Night February 29 the club will be showing one of the nominated films.
You can follow them on Twitter and facebook or go to http://www.tideswellcinema.com