After noticing a lack of arts and culture in the Alfreton area, Jemma Burton was keen to set up a community cinema which would provide a relaxed, friendly space for local people to come together and enjoy some escapism through film.
So Somercotes Cineroom was born and has been going from strength to strength ever since. Not only is it a great example of community power but reports have shown that watching films can boost mood, aid relaxation when watched away from other distractions, motivate you to try new things and reduce stress.
Jemma said, “I’ve worked for Junction Arts since 2016. We do a lot of work in Bolsover district but I felt like there wasn’t that much arts and culture in the Alfreton area. It was something I’d been thinking about for a while and seen community cinemas happening. It wasn’t until I mentioned it to a friend and they were like, yeah I’ll help you do that, that we were like, OK, let’s do it.”
After successfully applying for a kick start bursary from Cinema for All – a charity which supports communities to set up their own cinemas – the Cineroom began screenings in Somercotes Village Hall in October 2019.
A way to socialise
Jemma explained: “It’s really to get people together, have some arts and culture in the area and just use film as a tool to get people socialising, get people out.
“It’s quite cozy and relaxed, friendly. We have refreshments out and people bring their own as well.
“We found from the first screening that sitting on village hall chairs for two hours can make your bum a bit numb so we always put in an interval now and put on the refreshments again. It’s a really nice atmosphere. We have the fairy lights on. A lot of people know each other so have a little chat and catch up.”
Accessible for everyone
The Cineroom also provides a more accessible way to enjoy film.
Jemma said: “It’s something a lot of people can probably walk to and it’s a lot more relaxed [than a big cinema]. We have a group of women who have sort of become regulars now, one of them always asks for subtitles because she’s hard of hearing so it’s a lot more accessible for people. The price point and a lot of things and I think it’s just a nice social thing to do on an evening.
“I think with film people don’t realise they’re engaging in the arts. It’s quite an accessible way into the arts and sharing that with friends and family.
“We sell tickets online but we also sell them through the Parish Council as well. It works really well because obviously not everybody does online so it works well for us to be able to do it both ways.”
Run by volunteers
The Cineroom is run by five volunteers who do it monthly for six months of the year but Jemma is keen to get others involved.
Jemma said: “I basically roped in my partner, my friends, my sister. It would be good to have other people in the community volunteer and people can come and help if they want to. It could be marketing, going around putting posters up or coming and helping set up or do refreshments at the screening. Whatever they wanted really or help us pick films.
“We’d love to grow it as well. I’d love to do an outdoor film screening at some point which I think we will do but they’re quite expensive, it’s getting the funds and things to be able to do that.”
Connecting the community
Setting up the Cineroom has also enabled Jemma to connect and grow a network of other community groups in the local area. After being awarded funding through Tesco Bags of help, free screenings were set up for the girl scouts.
She said: “We’ve connected a lot with other groups in the community like the girl guides and the scouts and Somercotes History Society. We’ve made those networks and then also within the community cinema world as well. It’s been really good for us to put on those things, we become part of the community as well.”
You can find out more about Somercotes Cineroom via their Facebook page here or if you’d like to learn more or are interested in getting involved you can contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org