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Inspiring the audiences of tomorrow at Cultivate

Date posted: 21.01.2015

Last week saw the third edition of Cultivate, Film London's national training programme for film exhibitors looking to reach more young people through their work.

With the aim of inspiring and engaging all types of young cinema-goers across the UK, Cultivate calls on the expertise of practitioners and industry professionals to share their knowledge with aspiring film educators over the course of three days.

There were just under 30 participants this year, with backgrounds ranging across the exhibition spectrum, from cinema chains like Picturehouse Cinemas, Odeon Cinemas and Everyman Media Group to smaller film organisations including The New Black Film Collective, Lighthouse and WOW Wales One World Film Festival.

Back to school

It was a return to the classroom for our participants, who were put through their paces with a series of sessions focusing on:

  • integrating film into education
  • cultivating youth audiences
  • collaborating with other arts and media
  • innovative ideas for promotion
  • current trends in the UK and European cinematic landscapes

When the three days were up, participants left armed with valuable insight on:

  • the primary and secondary school curriculums
  • finding and programming great films for young audiences
  • preparing educational materials
  • operating in a safe and lawful way
  • attracting a range of audiences, stakeholders and partners

The course was book-ended with two Show & Tell sessions, where participants were encouraged to explore how their organisation or project could benefit from changing their approach to engaging young audiences. 

Lecture notes

Cultivate’s speakers were cherry-picked from all corners of the film industry, with a wealth of experience from exhibition to production, distribution, education and beyond. So we didn’t let them get away without asking for some of their top tips for working in the sector.

Here are some of the best:

  • Always seek to look at things through the eyes of the audiences and groups you’re working with, or hoping to connect with. (Paul Reeve, Into Film)
  • People love being asked what they think, if you ask them in a fun, friendly way. The word evaluation is often equated with something boring, but you can change that! (Helen Ball, The Audience Agency)
  • Find the right gatekeepers to help you reach young people and involve them in planning your event and marketing strategy. (Leah Byrne, Picturehouse Cinemas)
  • The young audience is itself made up of a series of segments which demand different forms of programming and engagement. (David Sin, Independent Cinema Office)
  • If the cinema sector overlooks disabled people they are running significant PR, commercial and legal risks. The business issues are compelling! (Rick Williams, Freeney Williams)

Testimonials from the attendees

What did this year's participants make of the course?

Liza Fletcher, director of E17 Films, saw the course as an opportunity to improve networking contacts, develop her fundraising strategy and improve her project's outreach to young people.

"I believe I've achieved that," she says. "The luxury of having this time to fully focus on strategy and future has been a boost I'd recommend it to any organisation of whatever size."

Stuart Wells, chair of the Seaboard Film Society and Fling! Film Festival, came down from Scotland to attend the course. He describes it as "an invaluable experience," which has "imparted the knowledge to simplify and sharpen our goals for the coming years."

"It was fantastic to meet other people who normally work in little bubbles and to share ideas," says Alastair Binnie-Lubbock, Education Projects Coordinator at Picturehouse Cinemas. "It feels I've met colleagues I never knew I had. It was great to learn from our collective mistakes and successes and to get inspired by all of the attendees and the projects we're all working on."

Cultivate: Inspiring Future Audiences is presented by Film London and supported by Creative Skillset. Additional support from Film Hub London, managed by Film London. Proud to be a partner of the BFI Film Audience Network, funded by the National Lottery.

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