This month’s Film Hub London Exhibitors’ Breakfast took place in London's newest independent cinema, The Garden Cinema. Opened in March 2022, The Garden Cinema screens repertory seasons and new releases from around the world, with two screens and a spacious bar area for discussions and events. The focus of this Exhibitors' Breakfast was Disability Confidence in Event Management, with a fascinating presentation from Nick Goss of Goss Consultancy, who brought 15 years of experience and insight in promoting disability confidence, from venue access to programming, to an audience of Film Hub Members.
First up, The Garden Cinema's Programmer and Outreach Coordinator Erifili Missiou and Film Curator George Crosthwait provided us with an intro to their wonderful new Covent Garden venue. The cinema is an eccentric unique space, the brainchild of Michael Chambers who designed everything from architecture to programming. "The vision of what you’d get if you stayed up late eating cheese and Googling Art Deco!" says George. Holding this Exhibitors' Breakfast is something of a landmark for the venue, says Erifili - "we were due to open two years before we did, in March 2020, so it's been a long road."
The Garden Cinema's vision is to create a space for an artistic community to grow. Their independent status gives them leeway to experiment with programming, diving deeper into the work of particular filmmakers and directors, as well as collaborative and partnership programming.
Currently comprising two screens, one with 70 seats and the other with 40, and a spacious bar area, there are already plans for a larger third screen and a cafe to open sometime next year. Watch this space!
“Diversity is a fact, inclusion is an act - one without the other is a waste of time, energy and opportunity.”
Next up was Nick Goss, head of Goss Consultancy, who has been working in working in disability confidence for 15 years. Nick is a is a full-time wheelchair user since birth, a partner and a father. "It’s important not to think of people as one-dimensional, as just disabled" Nick says.
Nick preaches openness and honesty, and a strategic, sustainable, consistent approach to access - the only thing worse than not being able to access a venue, , he says from experience, is to spend two hours travelling there only to then find you can’t get in. It’s important to be open about your venue, and any limitations it may have, but also to focus on what you can do, and what you are doing well.
There is a lot of anxiety around dealing with disability, and, especially, hidden disability - mental health, for example, or conditions that may suddenly flare up. But being disability confident and professional is hugely important, especially in customer service. Expectations are rising - things have changed a lot in the last ten years so standards must be higher. The risk to reputational harm is much larger because of social media - "so if there’s no other reason to make sure you're disability confident, then there’s this!"
Nick's session also included a brilliant gameshow-style ‘Who Wants to be Disability Confident’ quiz, educating our exhibitors on everything from the number of disabled people in the UK (currently 14.1 million) to spending power of disabled people and their households in the UK (£249 billion) so, as Nick says, as well as an ethical and a legal case for getting this right, there is a huge business case.