Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Culural Exhibition, Day 2

Our second day kicked off with one of my main areas of interest: audience development. David Sin walked us through the basics, and I took advantage and tried to gather as much knowledge as I could in advance of the new challenges we’ll be facing in Stratford. He underlined the importance of market research and audience surveys, which I think should be at the heart of any venue’s work. Being audience-led is key.

Gaylene Gould (pictured) joined us for a talk on Cultural Diversity, a topic that makes most people’s eyes roll because it has become synonymous with public policy talk, and often is not rooted in real work and/or results. But Gaylene brought a fresh and smart approach which made us gasp and laugh in equal measures. “Film, of all art forms, I find is the most bigoted and the most racist.” She said, right before I asked how to connect with black audiences in East London. She gave me some top notch pointers. “For starters, if you’re whole team looks like you, you’re in trouble.” Noted.

Then we had very interesting panels on accessing disabled audiences, young people and children. Cathy Poole from the Curzon in Clevedon showed us an amusing home video which revealed that they have the same exact ancient ticket machine (AUTOMATIC) that we have! This session also gave us one of my favorite quotes of the day, courtesy of Martin Grund from Leeds Young People’s Festival: “you wouldn’t expect the world to only read books from one city in one country” on Hollywood’s film dominance.

The last session for the day was the distributor’s perspective: Dave Jarmain from Universal (my favorite major), Matt Smith from Lionsgate and Colin Burch from Verve. They outlined their business models and then we got on to the juicy stuff: distributors versus exhibitors. While they bemoaned the existence of windows, I pointed out that flexibility is needed both ways, specially when asking for all shows for weeks at a time. As always when you pit these two groups together, it gets fun, tense and “a little passive aggressive” as another trainee mentioned.

We finished off with a tour of the Roxy Bar and Screen near Bourough Market, an innovative and cool venue which, as it names suggests, is a bar first and a screen second. The owner and manager Phil Wood was a gracious host and apparently is a reader of this blog. Hi Phil!

Tomorrow, on Cultural Exhibition: Programming shorts, archive, festivals, moving image…

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