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Save the Phoenix: Thousands oppose move for Curzon to take over East Finchley’s legendary independent cinema

PUBLISHED: 16:51 27 September 2018 | UPDATED: 08:29 28 September 2018

Phoenix Cinema

Phoenix Cinema

Archant

Campaigners are rallying to keep East Finchley’s Phoenix Cinema independent, after it was announced a national chain is set to take over the its running.

A petition against Curzon Cinemas taking over the screen has already got 2,100 signatures. The move was announced by Curzon last week after months of talks. It runs 12 cinemas across the UK.

The plans would see the cinema renamed the Curzon Phoenix East Finchley, and all the picture house’s marketing, programming and ticketing activities run by Curzon. The change could come into place from early November.

But the Save the Phoenix group have raised concerns about staffing, future programming, revenue and preserving the heritage of the cinema, which opened in 1912.

It says the Phoenix’s current board of trustees can’t guarantee jobs will be kept, because the final decision lies with Curzon.

Members dispute the Phoenix’s claim it will still honour its commitment to art cinema, festivals and special events for the same reason.

The campaign group has also said it is worried about whether the Phoenix Cinema Trust will be able to remain solvent with Curzon taking over the ticketing arrangements.

According to accounts registered with Companies House last year, the Phoenix Cinema Trust had lost £52,915 between 2016 and 2017.

Lauren Wright from Save the Phoenix said: “If the deal is finalised, there’s a real worry the Phoenix will lose its identity and history.”

“There are alternative ways of securing the long-term future of the Phoenix, including fundraising. In 2010, the Phoenix raised over £1,000,000 for a massive restoration project on its centenary. Rather than building on this, fundraising has been limited. Save The Phoenix is calling on the board to pause, listen to the community, and make sure they have exhausted all other options before going down this extreme path.”

Curzon told the Ham&High it met management and staff this morning, and said it will “engage further as and when needed during the process”.

But it was unable to say whether jobs would lost or created at the site in High Road.

It also said it is looking to keep the Phoenix’s current programme of events and festivals.

A spokesman said: “[We want] to maintain its iconic status as a focal point of the local community, build on the current programme and potentially invest in facilities there. This is a partnership between us and the Phoenix Cinema Trust. We are being asked to run the cinema on their behalf.

“We understand the concerns of the local community, but Curzon is not a big chain making a takeover. We are an independent cinema company with a very similar ethos and ideals to the Phoenix.”

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