Croydon historic David Lean cinema could reopen soon

Croydon Clocktower. Pic: M Tiedemann

The Croydon Clocktower. Pic: M Tiedemann

The David Lean cinema could once again play host to film screenings, hopeful campaigners say.

The Save The David Lean Cinema campaign has been battling to reopen the cinema since its closure in 2011 following budget cuts.

Adrian Winchester, who leads the campaign, confirmed they have been talking to the Council: “There is currently a genuine possibility that we might be able to start some screenings next year.”

However the group will now have to pay a hiring fee and share the newly titled David Lean Auditorium with other community groups who can use the space for talks, meetings or lectures, starting November.

Winchester said: “There have been some positive developments but it’s necessary to keep them in proportion.”

He explained that while the DLC is “close to being capable of screening films again” afterits refurbishment and its equipment returned to working order by technicians, it currently can’t be said “with any certainty when there will be further progress.”

There had been some excitement after recent reports that the cinema would be reopening because of a U-turn from the Council.

But Councillor Tim Pollard, Cabinet member for arts and culture, explained that this is not the case: “The David Lean Auditorium is part of the revamp of the Clocktower complex which has its official opening in a few weeks.

“It is reopening as a space the community can hire as an auditorium. It will have the ability to project films as it did before and I hope that DL campaign supporters will take advantage of that.

“The idea is that it can be used for a more diverse range of events and presentations than previously.”

The David Lean Auditorium, along other parts of the Clocktower complex, is being brought back into use after Croydon Adult Learning and Training (CALAT) breathed new life into the space.

CALAT’s weekday evening classes which began in September also mean the complex will stay open after 6pm, allowing for evening film screenings during the week.

Since the closure of the cinema in 2011, campaigners have been showing films in nearby pub The Spread Eagle.

However, a move back into the David Lean Auditorium would mean a greater capacity for showings and the potential to hold more than one screening a week.

Winchester accepts that asking for payment is reasonable, but hopes that the community space “would be made affordable for groups such as ours.”

He expressed issues around an “unpredictable income” as well as other obstacles including long negotiation processes that mean reopening is “far from guaranteed.”

He said: “Presenting films is a major challenge even for our enthusiastic, knowledgeable and unpaid committee, so it’s difficult to imagine anyone else wanting to do so in the near future.

“It’s unlikely that anyone other than the campaign has the appropriate motivation, skills and people to do this. I hope the Council will agree that a successful reopening of the David Lean will be difficult without film screenings presented by the campaign.

“We acknowledge that there has been tangible progress that we could not have predicted earlier this year. But the fact that the DLC is almost ready for use adds to the frustration of not using it!”

To find out more about the campaign and its film screenings at The Spread Eagle visit the Facebook page.

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