A much loved Croydon community cinema which re-opened after a public campaign has won the 2016 Time Out Love London Local Culture Award.
This is the first time that the David Lean Cinema has won the award. The awards have been running for three years and are voted on by the general public, who chose their favourite restaurants, bars, cafés, shops and cultural venues.
The original David Lean Cinema opened in the Central Library Clocktower on Katherine Street in 1995 in honour of the legendary film director, who was responsible for Lawrence of Arabia, Bridge on the River Kwai and other cinematic masterpieces who was born in the town. Due to major budget cuts by Croydon Council, it closed in April 2011.
Many local residents were disappointed to see the cinema disappear which led to the Save David Lean Cinema Campaign and from December 2011 to January 2014, the Campaign screened around 70 films in various locations. This enabled them to build up their support base.
Eventually, the Save David Lean Cinema Campaign gained attention from the wider public. Due to public pressure, Croydon Council promised that films would continue to be shown in Croydon Clocktower.
Campaign directors Adrian Winchester and Janet Smith attended the Time Out awards at the Bloomsbury Ballroom. Winchester said: “We’re extremely grateful to our loyal supporters who considered us worthy of this prestigious award. It’s a great credit to all our volunteers who have made the David Lean a much-loved venue. We hope the resulting publicity will bring more patrons and help to keep the cinema open in future.”
Now, the David Lean Cinema presents around nine films a month. It aims to help visitors discover the best of British and World cinema, as well as classic re-releases and recent favourites. This year, they sold 82 per cent of their total seats in the first 3 months.
Most of their stewards are volunteers including box office, projectionists, programmers and supporting admin personnel. One of the staff, Cathy Burns, said: “Quite a large group of volunteers enables us to show quality films in a lovely 68 seat cinema for the benefit of the Croydon community.”