Small Town, Big Screen: Box Office Support for Community Cinema

Claire Boot | Posted on Wed 29 May 2019 at 3.25PM
Categories: Case Study

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The British Film Institute (BFI) estimates there are over 1500 community cinemas in the UK. From monthly screenings in a village hall to weekly programmes in a town’s much-loved old cinema, community cinemas bring affordable and accessible film-going to all. In 2018, almost 6,000 film events by non-profit organisations were managed through TicketSource, totalling over 121,000 ticket transactions.

Stockbridge Community Cinema in Hampshire was established in 2015 and arranges about 35 screenings a year in Stockbridge Town Hall. “In order to widen our audience base, we decided to make it easier for those living in the surrounding villages to buy tickets online,” said Paul Kidd, Manager. “We used TicketSource on the recommendation of the local amateur dramatics society.” The cinema’s ticket sales have trebled in four years. “Online sales have been a significant contributor to our growth,” noted Paul. “Bookings via TicketSource make up around 40% of total sales.”

Like many community cinemas, Stockbridge Community Cinema is managed by a dedicated team of volunteers. “TicketSource has made life easier for us,” explained Paul. “We are all volunteers and want the effort involved to be as streamlined as possible. Setting up events on the system is very straightforward, and we frequently use the dashboard to check on ticket sales progress. Occasionally, someone books the wrong event and wants to change it – it takes seconds for us to administer the change and the reports immediately reflect the amended position.”

Paul credits TicketSource with improving the cinema’s ticket sales and customer base. “We’ve added many more email addresses to our mailing list from those who book online,” he said. “The mailing list has been so successful that we removed the 'tick here to be added' box on TicketSource, as we were getting full houses and didn’t want local customers to miss out due to events frequently selling out!”

Hebden Bridge Picture House in Yorkshire opened in 1921, and is one of the last surviving council-owned cinemas in the UK. The Picture House hosts screenings most days, ranging from new releases to arthouse and foreign language films, and proudly serves tea in proper mugs alongside locally baked cakes.

“We started using TicketSource in 2018,” said Rebekah Fozard, Manager. “We wanted to give our customers a lower booking fee than our previous ticket agent offered, and we wanted a more efficient back office to make uploading and amending events much quicker and simpler. As a small but busy cinema, run by over-stretched part-time staff with support from a thriving Friends group, I like the fact that I barely think about TicketSource because it works so effectively, and is so reliable: I have come to take it for granted.”

TicketSource also offers a telephone box office service to handle all of your telephone bookings.

Tickets for standard screenings at the Picture House are available only on the door, but advance ticket sales are managed through TicketSource for special events, such as live arts broadcasts from the National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Glyndebourne Opera. “I like how transparent the system is,” explained Rebekah. “It’s very helpful that front of house reports are emailed to you in a printable format – no need to log on and extract data when you're busy – and we've been able to set different permissions for each account.”

According to Cinema for All, the national organisation for community-led cinema, “community cinemas are the social heart of their community.” Supported by TicketSource, Stockbridge Community Cinema and Hebden Bridge Picture House – in common with community cinemas all over the UK – provide quality cinematic social experiences with a uniquely local twist.

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