Bologna, Day 4 – sustainability, access & inclusion

Day four of the Bologna Lab is all about sustainability, access and inclusion. Bob van der Meer (Filmhallen, The Movies) starts the day with a presentation on the renovation of The Movies through crowdfunding. After more than a 100 years it was time to renovate the cinema, the building started to dilapitate and something had to be done to be more sustainable, since the energy costs were going through the roof. They started a crowdfunding campaign and raised more than €90.000 in one week.

Hedvika Maternova (Bio Oko) tells about how their cinema is almost like a living room for their neighbors. They want to be a place for everybody and thus create programming for seniors, people with babies, dogs and try their best to be an accessible space. They try to think about sustainability by introducing reusable cups, turning banners into totes and poster material into diaries.

Steph Read (Watershed) presents a few projects in their cinema regarding inclusion and sustainability; the box office area was renovated in order to make it more welcoming. Toilets were refurbished to make them more inclusive. They also try to reach a broader audience with more music events.

Sophia Zagoul (Admiral Kino) presents their projects on rethinking the physical cinema space in order to be more accessible, sustainable and inclusive. It’s proven to be challenging to find a balance, because your visitors can also get upset by certain changes. They’ve turned parking spaces in front of the cinema in a green outdoor area and have introduced inclusive intiatives such as more feminist cinema and senior screenings.

Yang Yang (Broadway Cinematheque Beijing) went on to tell about their cinemas in Mainland China. It’s a big, multifunctional space with screening rooms, but also an exhibition space. She’s also given insights on how they showcase foreign films in China, as you have to ask permission to screen these titles at the censorship. They only get to screen these films 2-3 times per city and they have to ask permission for every city seperately.

After these presentations the participants were grouped together to think about ways how to reorganize your space. Bio Oko has the problem of keeping their energy costs low. An idea was to introduce a crowdfunding campaign and financial help from Europa Cinemas to reconstruct certain parts of the building. One cinema situated in a church without a bar area was very happy, because they came up with a solution during the workshop: create an area to socialize in between the cinema and church, right in the courtyard area. Another cinema was advised to make their space more atmospheric by adding tapestry, filters on lights and adding some plants in the multiplex cinema where they screen their films.

After lunch Madeleine Probst goes on to tell what they did to grow in a more sustainable way. It’s time to be more reflective. They trained their staff during covid times, and asked themselves; does our organisation represent our city? It’s a slow and complex process but it’s you have to change things from the inside out. Ask other parties to organise and host certain events, this is the way for audience development.

Linda Sjögren (Hagabion) goes on to tell about how their cinema is run by more than 120 volunteers; from box office to projection and programming to social media. They collaborate with different partners, for instance they have three cine clubs and host open movie nights, in which young directors can screen their films.

Hajna Toth (Budapest Film) tells about the challenges they face after the pandemic. It’s proven difficult to find staff who want to work in their cinema, since the pay is very low. Energy costs are going through the roof, which resulted in closing some of their cinemas on Monday’s and Tuesday’s.

The last workshop of the day is on thinking of ways to diversify your team. Different ideas were presented; it’s all about starting small. Bring people in from outside your organization. If the board consists of mostly old white males, bring in an extra person on the board. You can appoint a diversity manager, find ambassadors and give them the space in your cinema. If you don’t have a lot of young volunteers, find out where you can advertise so that you can reach them too. In the end, representation matters, because it pays off. If you want to create a safe space for minorities, you’ll need minorities in your team and audience.