After two full days of insightful panels and presentations, the 22nd Europa Cinemas network conference drew to a close. Summarising the key takeaways from the preceding days’ workshops and sessions, Michael Gubbins talked about the “fight for the future”.
Much of what was presented in the workshop sessions had been many months in the making with focus groups and workshops already serving as the ideation and testing grounds for some of the bigger ideas we are now ready to adopt as a network.
From Collaborate to Innovate, which explores how we can work together in new ways across the network, sharing and building best practice, to the two new charters for members to adopt, which were presented after many months of work across Zoom where a working focus group developed its core principles, to the individual projects presented on panels, in open slot and arthouse tale sessions, show how tirelessly network members have worked to bring audiences back, and to attract new audiences, too.
Optimism and pessimism came through as two competing themes but, as the network’s existence proves, optimism prevails. “You choose to put your energy and love and passion into arthouse cinema,” Gubbins said, “and we are now in an existential fight. You’re optimistic and believe you can win it: if you stay in it, you’re an optimist.”
The questions, now, are to identify what we are fighting for and who we are fighting with. We need to get people on our side, Gubbins said, to help us with that fight and the way to do it is to go out and sell arthouse cinema to a new generation. And then keep doing it, again. And again. And again.
Remembering to listen to young audiences is key in attracting and interacting with them and, cinema as a cultural art form, has the ability to cross big social and political divides. Our cinemas create community and our resilience will help us in the existential fight against the various crises we as a network, as Europeans, now face.
Photographs © Francesco Clerici