The David Lean Cinema, the much-cherished local arts institution in the Croydon Clocktower, will start showing films again at the end of this month – more than 18 months after being forced to close due to the covid-19 pandemic.
“This is surely one of the happiest newsletters we have written during the life of the David Lean Cinema CIC,” members of the local campaign group were told last week, “as we are able to announce the reopening of the cinema.”
The David Lean Cinema was opened in 1995, when the Clocktower complex was built to house library, local archive and CALAT facilities. It is named after Sir David Lean, the Oscar-winning director of Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago and Bridge On The River Kwai, and one of Croydon’s most famous sons or daughters.
The 60-seat auditorium is run by a community interest company, or CIC, formed out of the Save the David Lean Cinema Campaign, who – backed by support from Inside Croydon and inspired by Ronnie Corbett – originally secured its reopening in 2014, after it had been closed by the then Tory-run council as part of the first round of austerity cuts three years before.
The David Lean’s covid closure has lasted almost six months longer than many other cinemas and theatres – mainly because the campaign group were waiting for clearance from Croydon Council, who own the venue.
At the start of the month, the campaign’s 1,350 supporters were advised, “This week we have been given permission to reopen the David Lean Cinema auditorium for film screenings, following Croydon Council’s review of our covid-19 Risk Assessment document.
“This will allow us to operate the cinema with a range of hygiene and safety measures similar to those used in other cinema venues. This is, of course wonderful news, and we are working on agreeing a reopening date and programme of films.”
That programme will recommence on Tuesday, October 26.
The latest David Lean Cinema announcement states, “There will be film performances in the afternoon and evening of Tuesday and Thursday as well as alternate Saturday afternoons.
“The screenings on Tuesdays and those on Thursday afternoons will be subject to social distancing, with limited seats available, whereas those on Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoons will have all seats available. We will be familiarising our wonderful stewarding volunteers in the amended ways of working that this will entail over the coming weeks.
“Unfortunately, we will have to delay the reintroduction of some aspects of the David Lean that you will have got used to.
“There will be no walk-up box office before shows yet – tickets will need to be booked online or by phone initially, and in advance of screenings. The Arts Bar will not be open (we hope to commence this in the New Year). Babes in Arms and Dementia Friendly screenings will not be part of our initial programming.
“During this period up to Christmas, we plan to show three titles over a fortnight, all of which will be available in socially distant and ‘full’ screenings. The films will be a mixture of titles that have opened earlier in the year and the best of the latest releases – hopefully something for everyone.
“We plan to give more detailed information about how we will be organising screenings on the website and via these newsletters. In the meantime, if you have any concerns or queries, do let us know via our contact form.”
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