Editor’s comment: Phoenix hasn’t risen quite yet
- Credit: Polly Hancock
There is little that local newspapers love more than a successful public campaign to save a heritage asset.
When I took over editing the Ham&High, I was told time and again that the communities in my new patch prided themselves on fighting for public resources and assets and often beating, against the odds, larger and more powerful organisations. Even in my short time here I’ve seen it in the binning of the Ryhurst partnership at the Whittington Hospital and the blocking of CS11 work at Swiss Cottage, and I know there are countless other examples – the A&E at that same hospital and the protection of the Heath over a period of decades being among the most famous.
It now appears we can add the independence of the Phoenix Cinema to a list of things the community has fought for and won.
But the hard work has only begun for East Finchley’s iconic indie screen: now the trustees (and I’m curious as to whether there will be any changes at the top table in light of this U-turn) and the community must do all they can to ensure the cinema is actually profitable and can turn its fortunes around.
That doesn’t just mean the fundraising that has been curiously absent from its past business plans, notwithstanding the Friends packages it offers, but all of us actually patronising the Phoenix in favour of what might be more convenient or modern venues elsewhere in north London.
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Wouldn’t it be great to see the auditorium sold out not just for crisis meetings about its future, but for every screening?
Perhaps this isn’t realistic, but no viable model can exist for it that doesn’t involve improved footfall – not without losing some of the assets that made it worth fighting for in the first place.
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This campaign has won the Phoenix an enormous amount of publicity both locally and nationally. The board must now capitalise on that, or we could find outselves back here sooner than we think.