City's cinema awarded more than £120,000

The Odyssey Cinema in St Albans 

The Odyssey Cinema in St Albans has been awarded cash from the government's Culture Recovery Fund. - Credit: The Odyssey Cinema / supplied by BFI

While cinemas up and down the country remain temporarily closed, St Albans' Art Deco picture house has been awarded more than £120,000 from a special fund.

The Odyssey Cinema has been granted cash from the government's coronavirus recovery pot.

Inside The Odyssey Cinema in St Albans 

Inside The Odyssey Cinema in St Albans - Credit: The Odyssey Cinema / supplied by BFI

The cinema in London Road is currently closed due to the latest national lockdown.

However, Odyssey is one of the beneficiaries from the government’s £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Last month more than 200 independent cinemas across England shared £16 million in grants from a £30 million fund allocated by the British Film Institute (BFI), on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the biggest ever single investment in this country’s cultural sectors.

The Odyssey St Albans Ltd's share, announced before Christmas, was £120,377.

That comprised of a business sustainability grant of £110,545 and nearly £10k in a health and safety award.

Before the latest national lockdown was introduced, the restored cinema posted on its Instagram page: "We are really happy to announce that we’ve been awarded a grant from the @dcmsgovuk Culture Recovery Fund!

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"With this support we will be in a better position to secure our future and continue our journey in 2021.

"Thank you to the @britishfilminstitute for recognising our contribution to independent cinema. This will allow us to continue to serve the community by sharing the real cinematic experience we love so deeply #HereForCulture"

Although currently closed until further notice, the Odyssey intends to continue its varied programme of movies when restrictions are eased.

Cinema manager Jo Littlejohn said: "With the support and commitment of the Culture Recovery Fund we can remain a beacon of hope for the community and local residents; somewhere they can get away and immerse themselves in a different world for just a couple of hours while feeling safe and welcome.

"Our exceptional team has worked hard and, even with the lack of new titles, our monthly programmes remain diverse and entertaining, showing films for all ages and tastes.

"With the collaborative effort and support of the BFI, Culture Recovery Fund, and our dedicated family of staff, we will not let the lights go out on our beautiful independent cinema." 

On announcing the grants last month, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said: “As a Star Wars fan, I know there’s no better place to experience great films than in your local cinema and these grants will provide vital support for independent venues."

Actor Michael Caine, who starred in Christopher Nolan’s blockbuster Tenet, also welcomed the help for the industry and encouraged audiences to support cinemas with safe visits when possible.

Sir Michael Caine said: “The moving image has the power to change the way we think. The power to inspire; to delight; and to move. It happens to me all the time.

"Film is one of the most powerful and accessible art forms on earth – and for so many a local cinema is a place we know, love and have grown up with.

"A cinema is very often a vital part of any community and we need to support them in order to keep the art of film and the sense of community alive.”

The BFI worked closely with individual cinemas to provide detailed and bespoke support throughout the application process.

BFI chief executive Ben Roberts said: “Across the country, local independent cinemas are hubs and lifelines for communities and often the only form of culture and entertainment.

"From educational programmes and workshops for young people, to screenings for the elderly and audiences with specialised needs, these cinemas play such an important role in people’s lives.

"The Culture Recovery Fund will mean that many of these cinemas survive the current crisis, and go on to play a vital role in the recovery of local economies and communities, bringing people together to offer joy, solace and the magic of the big screen.”

More than £1billion has now been allocated from the Culture Recovery Fund to support culture in all four nations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

£14 million in further support will be made available to cinemas through a second round of funding allocated by the BFI early this year from the remainder of the Culture Recovery Fund.

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