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New Phoenix chair says new leadership will help East Finchley cinema move forward in 'challenging times'

PUBLISHED: 17:52 15 January 2019

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Picture: Siorna Ashby

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Picture: Siorna Ashby

@siornaphotography

The new chair of trustees at the Phoenix Cinema said the board and staff will work closer together under her new leadership.

Alison Gold, the new chair of the Phoenix Cinema's board of trustees. Picture: Alison GoldAlison Gold, the new chair of the Phoenix Cinema's board of trustees. Picture: Alison Gold

Alison Gold was voted in as new chair late last year by the board of trustees. James Kessler QC stood down at the end of 2018, in a planned departure.

Ms Gold, who told the Ham&High she was “very proud” to take on the task of leading the independent venue during a turbulent period, said she said felt the cinema had the right team to do so. She said: “I live here and have done for a long time, and keeping the Phoenix independent is very important.

“We have challenging times, but I think the board has got the mix of skills for teamwork and collaboration to make it work.”

Ms Gold is the former head of strategy for the BBC Trust, and is a project director for the Competitions and Markets Authority.

The board has also reappointed former Phoenix CEO Paul Homer as a trustee. He was at the helm in 2010, when the venue raised £1.1million for a restoration.

Ms Gold’s appointment follows a tumultuous year for the Phoenix. A lively public meeting in September saw the board openly challenged by the community and staff for the board’s plans for the Curzon Cinema chain to take over the venue in High Road.

In November Ms Gold said the venue needed to raise around £50,000 by the end of the financial year and if the venue’s balance falls below £25,000, it will have to proceed with the unpopular deal.

However a good festive trading period, and fundraising has left her upbeat. “I’m feeling positive,” she said. “Footfall was up over Christmas and we’ve got the Oscars film season to come which is very popular.

“We need to encourage people who may not normally come to the cinema, to come along. Our under-26 tickets are a part of that, and we’ve got ideas in the pipeline.”

Fundraising has garnered more than £10,000, as Save the Phoenix’s fundraising efforts have now joined with the venue’s. A raffle before Christmas raised £1,800.The 51-year-old said: “We’ve seen some really good support and we want to utilise that. We want to give people reasons to come and to make it a place where people want to come, not out of a sense of duty, but because it is the best cinema to go to.”

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