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Lewes Cinema the other side of the story

On 9 Mar 2012 at 8:04pm Janet Street Preacher wrote:
Here's the Town Councils take on the Lewes Cinema issue

Check it out here »
On 9 Mar 2012 at 8:37pm Deelite wrote:
Wow. No holds barred there then.
On 9 Mar 2012 at 9:16pm someone else wrote:
I've been thinking about my take on the cinema stuff lately. Here's the thing: I'm not a regular cinema goer at the All Saints. The seats and screen are rubbish and they were unacceptably rude and discourteous to one of my kids a couple of years ago. At that point I decided to take my cash elsewhere.
But, and it's a big but: the value in Lewes Cinema is not the premises or the equipment; it's the established trade. What LTC has done is to steal the time taken by Lewes Cinema to establish the business and the customer base. I think that's utterly outrageous.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 12:46am Dave wrote:
So it looks like the admission fee should be going down by quite a lot if they don't have to make a profit.
Could somebody do the maths for me?
On 10 Mar 2012 at 12:58am DrDumpling wrote:
"our first commitment is towards local voluntary groups and organizations, and this supports the covenant imposed by the church authorities".......
Hey what about local profit making businesses.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 1:59am Odear Cinema wrote:
The Town Council has just not understood the point. They have not publicly properly consulted anybody, let alone Lewes Cinema, and got into a complete mess. IThose of us in the private sector, call it 'market research' Do Councillors not understand that the current unpleasant conflict is exactly why you do a public consultation, even if you have no intention of taking any notice of it!
Lewes Cinema may be absolutely awful ,( like many, i have never been, so don't know, and don't care), but the fact is that they exist, and people like their service and pay for it. Why would a Council want to spoil that, if it has a 'commitment' to anything? indeed , if they have to prioritise voluntary organisations, due to a covenant, then is the real issue here, that they have in fact been breaching it?
The Town Council does not run a cinema, and has absolutely no experience. However, it seems to have chosen to team up with another provider, without offering the 'contract' to anyone else. Why hasn't anyone else been offered the chance to run a cinema? As a businessman I have more experience than the Town Council, in a democratic world I could phone around a bit and arrange something. We could get someone interested even better than any of the current contenders, but the Council are preventing this from happening, by demonstrating a biased towards a pre-chosen candidate. Do they operate this policy with other service providers, or do they just rely on unpaid voluntary work, as an excuse not to pay for the cultural services that people want?
The Town Council has presumed that they can replace something, without asking anyone what they like about it. Therefore the Town Council are simply not in a position to claim that anyone will, or will not like a proposal they have already voted on, because they have no evidence. They may be right, and they may not. They simply do not know. They don't even know if a majority of people would prefer a cultural enterprise such as a cinema over something else. We simply have not been asked. Maybe most of the town would prefer something completely different, and this would be the chance to do it. It has become quickly apparent that had anyone been asked, the Council would have found that they have been making presumptions about the people who do use what services are provided. they have also presumed a majority in favour of a cafe and a cinema, even though we all pay Council tax. I certainly don't need yet another cafe in lewes, with, or without popcorn, and maybe all the other lewes cafes, who pay wages, and Business Rates, would agree with me?.
However, the Council do want to risk my tax money on this unpredictable enterprise, as if it is a no risk, problem free, guaranteed dead cert. There is absolutely no guarantee that copying someone else's enterprise will work, and as has become apparent, the manner in which it has been done has upset so many people, that they may have either killed off a large portion of audience, or even created a rival enterprise , that did not previously exist. I suspect that if things carry on as at present, a lot of out of town cinema goers will go else where , taking with them the contribution they were bringing into to the towns economy.
I have been surprised to read how many people from all over the area come into lewes for whatever it is that the two cinema enterprises offer.
the Council should have found out what that was, before they lose it.

How did the voting Councillors know that they would achieve visitor numbers projected in a business plan that isn't based on any consultation?
For those of us who do run a business, do consult our customers, and don't make massive financial changes without carefully considering the facts, this situation is completely ridiculous, and indicates very clearly why this group of Councillors (with apparently 2 exceptions) shouldn't be involved in running

On 10 Mar 2012 at 8:33am DFL wrote:
Hooray for the LTC, about time we had some common sense about ploughing the profits back into the community !!
On 10 Mar 2012 at 9:17am Fairmeadow wrote:
Seems rather blinkered thinking here. In the absence of any long term agreement to the contrary, the town council can let their premises to whoever they wish. Lewes Cinema have taken a tenancy on those terms, but their landlords have decided to use their premises in another way, so Lewes Cinema now have notice to quit.
This may reflect on their relationship with their landlords, but doesn't mean they have to cease operations in Lewes. Their offer sounds quite different from the new proposal for All Saints. They just have to negotiate alternative premises. Other venues of about the same size exist in the town - including some run (at some cost to council tax payers) by the town council. I've seen films presented well to decent audiences in the King's Church building, for example. St John-sub-Castro has good accoustics. There might be options in the new Phoenix development. Aren't commercial businesses supposed to show entrepreneurial initiative? Anyone who runs a shop might face having to move if they don't take care to get on with their landlord.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 12:35pm Trocette wrote:
Odear Cinema what a remarkable post. Almost 700 words by someone who admits they have never been to the cinema and know nothing about it at all. Next week: an atheist tells us who should be the next Pope.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 12:51pm Odear Cinema wrote:

DFL. If you read my post you will note that there can be no guarantee of a profit to plough back anywhere. You are simply making the same presumption as the Council. Yes it would be nice wouldn't it (if a bit ethically questionable) to cut out the middle man, and I would perhaps support it. However, do you really endorse setting up a business that completely lacks market research, and spending your investors money based on guesswork? Are you going to be one of the people working unpaid, year after year, in a Council run cinema? Or has the Council factored in a wage bill? Who, on the Council has spare time to manage all this, and who is paying for that time? The issue is that the Council are not private landlords they are Public Servants (remember those) , so the views of the public should be included in the decision making mix. (remember that?) Especially when they are not only paying for the Council budget, but are also paying for the cinema tickets. Except they weren't asked, were they?.
You cannot compare this situation with private rental to a shop, that is the simplistic mistake that the Council seem to have made. Shops aren't publicly funded, and when did you see a landlord chuck out Boots, and replace them with Superdrug? Yes, there are reasons why that doesn't happen.
Of course the Council can chuck any tenant out, maybe Lewes Cinema is a nightmare tenant, maybe they don't pay enough, maybe the cinema is universally hated, maybe it is the best Cinema in Britain. I have no idea. Did the Council investigate these issues? The problem is that you can't argue that you are chucking a tenant out because, the income is too low, or the public don't want a cinema in the building, if you haven't tried putting the rent up, or asked anyone what they think of the service. the Council probably have some reasons for this train of events, but the have sadly cherry picked the reasons that suit them, and ignored the rest. This can only result in bad decision making.
This Councillors behaviour has been inept. They want the benefits of being a private business ( negotiating behind the scenes based on beliefs, and hunches about profits) mixed with the benefits of public money, a public process, and a publicly owned building.
This kind of debate is exactly what should have happened as part of a consultation before a decision was made, not afterwards. It is so obvious I am amazed that it needs explaining.
It is not about defending or not defending a cinema,, the Council or rental agreements, It is about following a transparent, democratic, and fair process to get the best solution. Currently all that has happened is that councillors have potentially dissuaded a large number of cinema fans from using a service the Council wants to provide, and people like me who don't care about cinemas just look at the ineptitude of how the Council has handled a tenant offering a service so attractive, and apparently lucrative, that the Council want to copy it themselves.
Unfortunately a lot of opinion about this issue, is like DFL's it simply looks at the aspiration of both Lewes Cinema or the Council, instead of impartially looking at the hard business facts. Or as is so obvious to most of us, the complete lack of them.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 12:52pm Odear Cinema wrote:
Trocette. Maybe, I go to a cinema......... shock horror.....somewhere else. (glad to see you read my post so carefully you counted the words)
On 10 Mar 2012 at 1:12pm Dave wrote:
Surely people will go to the cinema in Lewes if they enjoy it and think its value for money, regardless of who runs it, I know I will.
The Council are the landlords and have the right to let the space to whoever they choose. Lewes Cinema have as has already been said, the option to find another venue in which to operate in Lewes or beyond.
If they don't have to pay wages to anyone then the Council would have to run it very badly not to turn a tidy profit and if most of that profit can then be put back in to the All Saints for the benefit of the community in general I think that's a great outcome. How hard can it be to get hold of films and get people in to watch, it's not rocket science is it?
Lewes needs venues like the All Saints, I don't know how much money Lewes Cinema ploughed back in over and above the very reasonable space rental but I would like to find out.
On 10 Mar 2012 at 1:35pm Southover Queen wrote:
Thank you, Ohdear Cinema, for your clear assessment of the situation. I tend to agree with you: it's the lack of public consultation which is disturbing. Some market research done properly and objectively could actually have prevented much of the back-biting we've had over this issue and we, the rate payers much cited but largely ignored, might well have contributed some useful ideas.

Also, frankly, it's not the regular attenders of the cinema who should be prioritised in such a consultation, but those who choose not to attend, surely? As it happens I don't go because I happen to have all the latest films on DVD and prefer to watch on my reasonably decent home set-up rather than fidget in an uncomfortable seat. I think I'd probably be willing to pay for a big screen experience, but only if (a) the quality is markedly better and (b) the comfort factor is taken properly into account. However since no-one's actually asked me, LTC don't know that, do they: they've decided that their 18 elected representatives (actually 16 since two voted against) already know and don't need to enquire. Well the evidence is that they don't...
On 10 Mar 2012 at 7:54pm Plumpton Regular wrote:
All started by Fishhousen on the back of a fag packet!
On 11 Mar 2012 at 8:57am Fishhousen wrote:
Oh no it wasn't! One gathers the information has mainly been provided by the Film Club, of which one K O was once a committee member.
On 11 Mar 2012 at 10:48am DFL wrote:
OK, let the council "manage" it for a year, and let's see what gets ploughed back....
On 11 Mar 2012 at 7:35pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
Look, Lewes Cinema are behaving as if they should have a monopoly on using the All Saints for films. They have only hired the space for a few hours a fortnight, not paid business rates, not paid for building upkeep etc etc. But lets not forget they have always been running this as a commercial profitable venture as part of a portfolio of cinemas. They have not been running it as a community enterprise for the council. I have no objection to them continuing to do this in another venue. But maybe the council should have considered tenders to run a non-profit community cinema service at the All Saints from many parties, not just the film club and caitlin. That would seem to have been a fairer process and Lewes Cinema could have applied as well as other possible interested parties - who knows, maybe the picture house at Uckfield, or another local film group may have applied.

Would Lewes Cinema be willing to run a community cinema service for the council ?
On 11 Mar 2012 at 7:43pm Jane S wrote:
I'm with Odear and Southover Q - the core issue is that the Council didn't do any public consultation, and that's not right. Much of the rest is opinion and speculation, and there are valid arguments on both sides.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 8:01am DFL wrote:
Well, the Council DO act on our behalf Jane S, that's why we elect them, do we really want them to get our opinion for EVERYTHING ? Also, BB has some good points, but I'd still like to see how the Council manage the filming activities over the year.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 9:52am someone else wrote:
BB - you said that Lewes Cinema have 'not paid business rates, not paid for building upkeep'. I don't think this is true. They paid a proportion of those through the hire of the building. LTC could have, many years ago, said to Lewes Cinema, 'OK, this is a commercial lease arrangement, let's charge 5x the normal hourly rate'. That they didn't is down 100% to the commercial incompetence of the Town Council.
Imagine this scenario: suppose the council owned a shop premises in Lewes which they then leased to someone who set up a greengrocers and turned it into a profitable business over a number of years. Suppose the council then terminated the lease and said, 'Actually, we could make more money out of selling fruit and veg ourselves'. Would people accept that? I struggle to see any meaningful difference between this and what the council has done to Lewes Cinema.
It's not the termination of the use of All Saints which concerns me. It's the fact that LTC proposes to take over the commercial activity. It's theft of an established business.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 10:29am Merlin Milner wrote:
Many people forget the role that the Film Club have had in bringing cinema to Lewes and how it has built it up for more than a decade. Also LTC will be working in conjuction with 2 local voluntary organistaions.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 12:40pm Plumpton Regular wrote:
I think this is probably a good idea by LTC but one that has been very badly executed. It is my understanding that other commercial activities take place in the All Saints Centre. Surely, if LTC is to be seen as even handed, it must take over their activities as well.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 1:28pm John Russell wrote:
Plumpton Regular: as a weekly hirer, sometimes twice weekly, of the All Saints through the year and for some years I'd love the council to take over our operation, I could have a rest then! The point is although we charge we don't do it for profit, income, wages or any other commercial reason, we do it for community and in our case people with disabilities and the elderly. From what I understand LC rode in on the back of the Film Club very many years ago and have done nothing for the community other than show films. They are a commercial business whereas the rest of us are one-person-bands, playgroups, charities etc LC should have been discouraged many years ago but... it's something that was bound to happen, later it would seem rather than sooner in this case. Nobody is stopping LC operating and we wish them good luck in whatever they do, they just have to do it elsewhere and not subsidised by the rest of us
On 12 Mar 2012 at 2:00pm Kettle wrote:
A 'one man band' is a business, just smaller. It doesn't mean that they are providing their services for free.
That was a fantastically bitchy letter by Lewes council, by the way. All adds to my feeling that this is personal.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 2:24pm DFL wrote:
Why don't the Lewes Cinema Company tell us how much they make each week and compare that to what they pay to hire the venue ?
On 12 Mar 2012 at 2:58pm Brixtonbelle wrote:
yes, LTC should have asked LC some time ago for an increase in rent. LC have simply taken good advantage of a low hourly rent. I'm amazed they've allowed it to continue for so long really - having run an small town Arts Centre programme for two years there is no way that another company would have been allowed to profit from (for example) box office receipts generated at the Arts centre.

I think the problem also lies in the set up of the All Saints as a 'community centre'. From what I see the community aspect of it is providing low rent space for small scale providers who give classes etc for low fees, often on a not for profit basis. I can't imagine one of two classes a week gives anyone a real income. I'd like to know what counts as 'community' and what counts as 'commercial' in the LTC's book. Is it simply about the amount of profits individuals make ? There is no programming of events by the council, so it does seem rather haphazard in its provision.

I really hope the council venture succeeds, simply because we need a cinema to continue in Lewes and it would be nice to have decent seats. And if the LTC makes it a non-profit venture or one where all profits are ploughed back into the All saints then so much the better.

Where would the accounts of the All saints centre be published ? It would be interesting to know how heavily subsidised it is by our local taxes.

On 12 Mar 2012 at 3:11pm Plumpton Regular wrote:
John Russell - I have no idea who you are but I seem to have hit a nerve. Why are you so defensive? Obviously there are many events take place at the All Saints which are "not for profit" enterprises. However, there have been other events beside the Cinema where commercial profit must have been the motive even if for only one person.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 3:19pm Jane S wrote:
Fair enough re consultation, DFL; it was only perception, I suppose - the episode seemed poorly handled and raised hackles when it needn't have.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 3:26pm John Russell wrote:
Nothing defensive about my comments and not hiding behind a nom de plume like so many do on this forum. Just stating the case from the view point of our use of the ASC and therefore perhaps differently informed from those who don't hire the ASC and who aren't actively involved in delivering community projects. You'll not find anyone who makes a proper return from events they put on at ASC apart that is from LC.
On 12 Mar 2012 at 6:40pm Dudley Ward wrote:
When we moved to Lewes 42 years ago we were delighted to be able to take our children to see Tom Thumb at the cinema in the Cliffe. This turned out to be the last show there and we had to wait many years for any sort of Cinema to return to Lewes. Driving to Uckfield is OK but driving to Brighton is a horrible experience. A lady behind me at All Saints last night said to her neighbour (who was not previously known to her), "I'm on my own now and I like coming here because I feel safe."
I fear the Council will make a cock up of this. If it aint broke, don't fix it.
On 13 Mar 2012 at 8:44am DFL wrote:
Dudley, that's so negative. Get behind your local councillors (who you voted for) and MAKE this happen !!
On 13 Mar 2012 at 9:47am Merlin Milner wrote:
Dudley, please support the Lewes Film Club and the Oyster project who will running it with the Town Council. Let‚??s not form an opinion before we start.
BB the 2011/12 budget figures for the All Saints are available on the LTC website. See link.

Check it out here »
On 13 Mar 2012 at 10:22am Dudley Ward wrote:
Who is being negative? I just think the Lewes Cinema have done a wonderful job over the last few years (thats positive isn't it?) and should have been given the opportunity to negotiate new terms. I love Lewes. I respect all the community initiatives (and have been involved in many of them) that have been such a feature of our town over the last few years. If the group hoping to take over the All Saints Film operation have submitted a properly costed realistic business plan which has been approved by the Council then good luck to them. I only hope they can do as good and efficient a job as Lewes Cinema!
On 13 Mar 2012 at 11:34am Plumpton Regular wrote:
If Lewes Cinema made the levels of profit that have been suggested here, LTC will be able to let people view films for next to nothing (assuming they are doing it on a not for profit basis).
On 13 Mar 2012 at 11:56am someone else wrote:
I don't understand why people are suggesting that tickets might be cheaper. The first LTC press release seemed to make it clear that the primary purpose of taking over the cinema's activities was to stop All Saints losing so much money as a venue.

That's after they've recovered the additional 30k they're proposing to spend on new seating. I wonder what the payback calcs on this are? Will new seats generate new audiences? I'd have thought the answer to that is 'not much', since the films will still be weeks behind Brighton, the acoustics will still be poor and the screen will still be too small.

But, of course, LTC must know what they're doing, mustn't they? I mean, there are an infinite number of examples of local authorities running businesses more profitably than the private sector, aren't there?
On 13 Mar 2012 at 12:10pm Plumpton Regular wrote:
Didn't someone on here suggest that Lewes Cinema are making £5000 per weekend? It wouldn't take many weekends to pay for the new chairs.
On 13 Mar 2012 at 12:40pm Plumpton Regular wrote:
Saturday 3rd March "Bacalao" performed at the All Saints. Tickets were £15, ¬£12 and ¬£10. Where did the profits from this end up?
On 13 Mar 2012 at 12:47pm someone else wrote:
Let's be generous and assume that's gross. So at five or six quid a ticket they're selling over 900 tickets a weekend from four or five screenings?

On 13 Mar 2012 at 2:22pm Merlin Milner wrote:
The Film Club have been successfully running films at All Saints for over a decade. They will be working with LTC to bring mainstream films to All Saints.
SE the profit stays in Lewes and helps pay for updates to All Saints etc. and help reduce the cost of All Saints to us the taxpayers.

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Buskers in Lewes 17:132
Buskers in Lewes

I'm not completely sure of the relevance of this information tom. The study of the money supply is of interest to some but as... more
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