Community cinema gets the go ahead from council

They said a number of locations were considered, including the ‘village green’ grassed area adjacent to the Avon Mall, Jubilee Oval in proximity of the Youth space, and also the area of Bernard Park between the Sound Shell and Swan enclosure.
They said a number of locations were considered, including the ‘village green’ grassed area adjacent to the Avon Mall, Jubilee Oval in proximity of the Youth space, and also the area of Bernard Park between the Sound Shell and Swan enclosure.

The Shire of Northam Council has voted in favour of budgeting for a community cinema in the next budget. 

At a council meeting held on Wednesday 17 May councilors debated as to whether or not a cinema was the best form of community engagement within the Shire. 

A final vote was carried, eight in support, one against. 

Vice-President, Councilor Michael Ryan said the cinema was a unique opportunity.

“this is a small amount of money for a big community gain,” he said in an address to council.

“We are able to help create an activity within our community, as well as employment opportunities for our young people.”

Although his sentiment was not held by all on council, with Councilor Steven Pollard questioning if Telethon wasn’t involved, would council still want to support the endeavour.

“This project is a waste of time if we don’t have good sound,” he said.

“If you’re going to see the new Avengers movie you want to feel every crash and bang.

“I feel like that is part of the movie viewing experience.”

Councilor Pollard said he questioned community support for an outdoor cinema considering the town has had cinemas in the past that were not sustained.

“Cinemas are a thing of the past,” he said.

“There are better ways of community engagement.”

Council has assured movies shown at the community outdoor cinema will be new releases, mirroring that of traditional cinemas in Perth.

The proposal 

The proposal being discussed, outlines a partnership with Telethon Community Cinema. 

The Shire said recently, a representative from Telethon visited Northam to discuss possible locations for a Community Cinema in the CBD. 

They said a number of locations were considered, including the ‘village green’ grassed area adjacent to the Avon Mall, Jubilee Oval in proximity of the Youth space, and also the area of Bernard Park between the Sound Shell and Swan enclosure. 

Bernard Park was chosen as the preferred location for the project.

It is proposed that the cinema viewing season would run on Thursdays to Sundays between 20 December 2018, and 10 March 2019, for 12 weeks with 48 screenings during that time. 

If the Council decides to implement the community cinema, it would cost the shire up to $35,000 to cover the costs of power, water, staffing (if community volunteers cannot be sourced), rubbish removal, post season maintenance and repairs, and local marketing.

The proposal outlines the overall costs of the community cinema at $94,000 for one viewing season, which includes the one off payment of $15,000 for bean bag lounges to hire out.

The $94,000 figure covers the costs of:

  • Candy Bar, alcohol for sale, pizzas/ other catering  
  • Graphic Design & Website, and banner advertising 
  • General Administration 
  • Insurance 
  • Telephone & Internet 
  • Associated license fees 
  • Online Ticketing 
  • All required infrastructure 
  • Electrical 
  • Security 
  • Audio Visual, Point of Sale, and Miscellaneous Equipment 

Responsible Officer Ross Rayson said although the Villiage Green may have been the first option it would not be a suitable space for the community cinema.

“It must be considered that in addition to the lack of required amenities close by, the village green is a leased area, and the erection of a semi-permanent structure on this would remove the capacity for the frequent community use that currently takes place there,” he said.

“The aim of this initiative, like many community events is to provide a fun activity in Northam for families that are seen as safe, inclusive and engaging. 

“This activity also offers opportunities to local Community Groups to fundraise by running a bar, candy bar, and even catering within the Cinema.”

The community cinema proposal has two different options for operation including a free cinema, which will require more funding from the Council, and the second option is a commercially-run cinema. 

Mr Rayson said the second option is preferred. 

An average attendance of 65 people would provide a break even figure with an average of 100 attendees being a benchmark for viability. 

“It is preferable that a local community group take on management of this project for fundraising purposes,” Mr Rayson said.