Tyneside cinema lands further investment in funding boost described as 'game changer'

Nic Greenan was appointed chief executive of Tyneside Cinema earlier this year.
-Credit: (Image: Tyneside Cinema)

The Tyneside Cinema has landed another funding boost amid plans to rejuvenate the independent arts venue.

A £545,000 sum in National Lottery grants from the British Film Institute (BFI) and The National Lottery Heritage Fund will help to fund a new programme of film, music and food staged outdoors and go towards improving the Grade II-listed venue's carbon footprint. It follows a lifeline £700,000 investment into the cinema, announced in recent weeks, which has staved off its closure.

News of the latest investment emerged at an event intended to pay thanks to supporters of the 87-year-old cinema who pledged £100,000 to keep it going during a funding crisis brought on by spiralling energy costs and waning audiences on the back of the pandemic. This week's event featured guest appearances from director Mike Figgis, musician Liam Fender, North East Mayor Kim McGuinness and Newcastle City Council leader Nick Kemp. It featured a specially commissioned film about the historic, with contributions from film fans and Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle.

Nic Greenan, chief executive officer at the Tyneside, which is a registered charity employing about 60 staff, said: “This was fantastic news to share with our friends and loyal supporters last night and the perfect way to kick off what will be a truly exciting new era for the Tyneside. We are hugely grateful to the BFI and to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for this amazing backing which will make a major difference to what we can offer to the people of the North East and to the running and upkeep of what is the last surviving newsreel theatre in the UK.

"Securing funding like this is a real game-changer and means that we can face the future not just with confidence but with optimism and anticipation. We have a fabulous programme of films, events, comedy and activities lined up over the coming months, which we previewed last night, and we cannot wait to get started!”

The Tyneside's turnaround includes plans to stage a celebration of North East film talent including the cinema's patron, Andrea Riseborough, filmmakers Ridley and Tony Scott as well as big name local musicians and players from Newcastle United Women's Football Club. There are also plans to reunite Sting and Mike Figgis for a special screening of the Tyneside-set film Stormy Monday which starred the Police frontman.

Meanwhile a planned film and live music season in partnership with Generator will see performances from the likes of Maximo Park, Utah Saints and Kneecap. And I, Daniel Blake director Ken Loach, writer Paul Laverty, and their collaborators will offer into the landmark North East Trilogy. More still is planned with free outdoor screenings of films across the region, the monthly Screen One Comedy Club and family-friendly activities for Halloween, Northern Pride and Christmas.

Ben Luxford, director of UK Audiences at BFI, said: “Tyneside Cinema is a vital cultural hub for the local area, and we were keen to support the cinema’s long term ambitions to grow their audiences. Their plans to utilise the funding to ensure the venue and its programme will connect with as many people in the region as possible, reaching far beyond their existing and loyal audiences, chimes with our fund priorities and we hope the benefits will be felt by those across the North East.”

Helen Featherstone, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We are delighted to support the Tyneside with this important resilience project. Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, this award will help the team to strengthen their offering, build relationships with new and existing audiences, and ensure there is a long and sustainable future for the unique and special heritage cinema."