Keswick Alhambra Cinema Awarded £84,782 In Third Round Of Government's Culture Recovery Fund

The Keswick Alhambra CInema has been awarded £84,782 in the third round of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund, one of among 925 recipients to benefit from the latest round of awards.

More than £100 million has been awarded to hundreds of cultural organisations across the country, supporting businesses from all corners of the sector as they deal with ongoing reopening challenges, ensuring they can thrive in better times ahead.

The Culture Recovery Fund has helped the Alhambra Cinema survive the enforced closures during the coronavirus pandemic, and this latest round has additionally contributed to the huge investment the owners chose to make during the second lockdown in early 2021: the grant has covered the cost of a state-of-the-art ventilation system installed in a brand new, 28-seater second screen, tucked under the balcony of the 108-year old building, so as to preserve all the original features and the balcony-and-stalls layout of the 175-seater traditional dingle-screen picturehouse auditorium.

The new auditorium will allow the Alhambra to screen a more diverse range of films to cater for younger audiences as well as their loyal older customers, made up primarily of regular visitors to the Lakes and holidaymakers. The British Film Institute, which administers the Culture Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas, has also funded the Alhambra's new Young Programmers scheme, which engages pupils from Keswick School in selecting one feature a week, and involves them learning all about how film exhibition works. A Saturday Kids Club has also just been launched, so the cinema will now be catering to the full range of local residents.

Volunteers who helped out over the summer, painting, decorating and cleaning as the cinema made a final push to open for No Time to Die have now been helping usher in the huge numbers of customers who have visited since the cinema reopened on 15th October: with almost 5,000 admissions so far, the latest Bond release has provided the Alhambra with its best numbers since 2008's Mamma Mia.

"It has been such a pleasure to see people admiring our handiwork" says Alison Leighton, one of the dozens of volunteers who made enormous contributions to the renovation of the cinema, and who is now regularly enjoying socialising with customers in the gorgeously restored foyer, decorated with light features created from the 35mm cinema reels that were used prior to digitisation of the cinema in 2012.

New director and co-owner, Jonathan Moore, says: “The Cultural Recovery Fund has kept the cinema afloat whilst we invested and reconfigured the business to ensure its long-term survival. It’s been a frantic year, but we’re now reopen and seeing the results already, with new, younger audiences coming through the doors"

Co-owner Carol Rennie recalls that "the cinema has been perennially under threat of closure over the decades - twice in the 30 years that my father managed the business, but thanks to the Cultural Recovery Fund we’ve survived the longest closure and worst ever situation to hit the cinema, and are now looking to thrive throughout the second century of our operation!"

Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said: “Culture is for everyone and should therefore be accessible to everyone, no matter who they are and where they’re from.
“Through unprecedented government financial support, the Culture Recovery Fund is supporting arts and cultural organisations so they can continue to bring culture to communities the length and breadth of the country, supporting jobs, boosting local economies and inspiring people.”

Over £1.2 billion has already been awarded from the unprecedented Culture Recovery Fund, supporting around 5000 individual organisations and sites across the country ranging from local museums to West End theatres, grassroots music venues to festivals, and organisations in the cultural and heritage supply-chains.

Ben Roberts, Chief Executive, BFI said: “Traditionally, this time of year brings a wealth of culture to the big screen for people up and down the country as local cinemas offer seasonal classics, and new British films and blockbusters. The Culture Recovery Fund has been vital to the survival and recovery of independent cinemas, enabling them to contribute to their high streets and communities, and crucially be there to welcome back their audiences.”

Cinema signage being reinstated on th front of the building
The local community helped fund the restoration of the facade.
Cinema reel lighting feature
Cinema reel lighting feature.
Volunteers Barry and Alison Leighton
Volunteers Barry and Alison Leighton.