The first step of our research into alternative cinema models, took place on 21st October 2009, when John and Neil made a trip to Newcastle…
The Star and Shadow Cinema is an ENTIRELY volunteer run, bespoke cinema space located in Ouseburn, about half a mile from Newcastle City Centre.
The building incorporates a 60 seater cinema with facility for 35mm film projection as well as 16mm and digital video projection. One very exciting aspect is that, in principle, anyone can programme what film is shown!
The venue also has a large licenced bar area (est. capacity approx 100 people) with versatile stage, P.A. and small lighting rig for live music performance, dj sets, art performance and drama. The bar (also staffed by volunteers) generates a small surplus income which helps to subsidise the building’s ongoing running costs.
Other facilities include: …office / admin space …screen printing area …35mm film darkroom …large workshop …box-office, loo’s and bike-racks!
Once through the front door we pass an authentic cinema ticket booth and enter a foyer lounge area with information boards. Clarity of information sets the tone – Star & Shadow is a hub around which ideas about cinema and independent culture can circumnavigate.
“Open Source” – is a useful contemporary metaphor for how the organisation exists and sustains itself. The wiki acts as a working document for all aspects of the day-to-day running which, through operating a key-holder system, can open any day of the week for deliveries, film reels, beer barrels etc.
Running a building in this open way with cinema as a focal point for activity has encouraged a great number of people to get involved.
Transparency and consensus decision making are recurrent themes with minutes from various committee meetings – public programme, finance, futures, buildings – published straight to the publicly accessible wiki.
Star and Shadow’s principles have historical roots in the co-operative movement, with RESPECT being core and, since no-one is paid, (and the organisation is not aiming to make a profit) all efforts must come from each individual’s own enthusiasm.