Day 2, Workshop 3 : Making Cinemas More Open, Inclusive and Sustainable

Still moderated by the dashing Irene Musumeci of Curzon Artificial Eye, UK, this workshop was about reaching out to communities that are not yet engaging with your space, creating more inclusive spaces and offers, optimizing spaces with practical design and architectural ideas and going green through small or big steps.


Innovation Prize Winner Eef De Lombaerde, the Audience Officer at Kunstencentrum BUDA in Kortrijk, a city where many nationalities converge, opened the workshop by talking how they reached out to communities. The first thing her team did was to identify the barriers to engagment : maybe the language they used was not appropriate ? Maybe the prices were too high ? Then, they got to know their surroundings, did google mapping of organisations and had a talk with them. Know your demographics, Eef says ! Partner up also, meaningfully. Learn while doing.

At BUDA, every project is distributed in its own way, which means starting over every time. Eef and her team also had to step outside ! They introduced their cinema on the targeted audience’s own terms, on their own territory. They also had to be generous to offer a social rate, a discreet discount system which is partly covered by the city, and partly by them. It is a structural thing for them. A process that is constantly evolving.


Obviously the rise is not financial but their social capital increased. Eef is happy to share that there is more and more awareness about BUDA’s work and youngsters contact her to organize things. The inhabitants start to know the team of this cultural place is open, listen to what they want.

Eef’s account is really inspiring and moving as one can feel all the energy, the instinct and good values put behind all the initiatives. The end quote borrowed from Marge Simpson reflects the warmth of this presentation well : « I don’t hate you for failing, I love you for trying. »

The equally touching and humble story of Kristofer Woods, co-programmer of 2-screen Wolf Kino in Berlin tells how the staff of this hip venue co-creates the place with spectators who are invited to invest their stories and opinions there. They work with an immigrants school : they teach the pupils how to make films, bring them to the Berlinale. Opening one’s doors, being inclusive is also about co-creating spaces, knowledge sharing, equipping people with confidence in their own view. Being transparent with them : showing how you programme films, how a DCP works etc.


The French architect Jean-Marc Lalo works on cinemas : 12 projects have already been completed among which the recent Studio des Variétés in Marseille, but he also contributed to the reopening of cinemas in Kaboul, Tanger, the Burkina Faso for instance. For him, a cinema is a city hallmark, it is a sign of modernity in deep connection with the inhabitants. He divides architectural projects into 3 main stages

1.Urban identity (façade and display of infos),

2.Public areas design 

3.Cinema configuration


For him, it is crucial to establish a dialogue with the inhabitants so they think of the new place as their own. He illustrates this point by telling the story of a cinema in the French mountain region of the Vercors, particularly well attended during the winter. There he designed the building so it would look like a beacon once night falls. A cinema must offer an image of comfort. Architectural choices such as low box office walls and open space facilitating circulation are of paramount importance. As far as sustainability is concerned,  Jean-Marc concluded on the large possibilities of using the sun light, recycling, circular economy in cinemas where the insolation is usually well done.

The environmental dimensions is at the core of the impressive HOME project in Manchester, an education charity and multi-art center. Head of Film there, Rachel Hayward, told us how since 2015, all the staff has been trained to be socially responsible in an ongoing process. Honey bees colonies have been introduced on roof, the honey is sold in their shop. They work with a 100 renewable electricity provider. They aim at reaching a Zero single-use plastic by next year. A 12-page Action plan is available on their website. They have done tons of gestures which make their venue truly sustainable : they change the cleaning chemical they used, they use sustainable ink & paper for brochures, implemented a new policy for travel, ask visitors to travel to HOME in a sustainable way ! On “Green june” they celebrated their creative sustainability. From executive boards to providers etc, all receive a document on sustainability, so their ethics, ideology are shared.


Irene enquired about a space that works very well in the speakers’ venues and what they would change. At Wolf and HOME, there is not a lot of office space, people are greeted at the entrance, the lobby is important. The café is the personality, the face of the cinema for Jean-Marc Lalo.

“Inclusion is also done through programming”, Elise Mignot from Le Café des Images in Hérouville-Saint-Clair added. At Yorck, there are an Open Film Mic’ nights where local film makers can show their films without curation on the part of Yorck’s staff, at HOME they also have an Open Submissions platform, done through partnerships projects as well, and these events are representative of communities.

The workshop ended on Jean-Marc Lalo and Rachel Haywards’s remarks that a cinema should be a place anchored in its time and well integrated in the neigborhood and that to achieve this, one must accept the importance to always keep learning.

Photographs courtesy of Joana Linda.

Charlotte Wensierski