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Phoenix Cinema: Fundraising weekend brings in thousands to help keep venue independent

PUBLISHED: 18:15 28 March 2019

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Picture: Siorna Ashby

The Phoenix Cinema in East Finchley. Picture: Siorna Ashby

@siornaphotography

There is “no prospect” of the Phoenix Cinema losing its independence, after crowdfunding and a fundraising weekend has seen thousands come in from the community to support the venue.

The audience looks on as Dr Matthew Sweet interviews Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton on stage at a fundraiser for the Phoenix Cinema last weekend. Picture: Harry TaylorThe audience looks on as Dr Matthew Sweet interviews Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton on stage at a fundraiser for the Phoenix Cinema last weekend. Picture: Harry Taylor

The weekend, which took place earlier this month, saw a Coldplay film showing, a quiz, tours, and a two-and-a-half hour screening and Q&A with League of Gentlemen and Inside No. 9 stars Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith.

Head of trustees Alison Gold said she was pleased with the response as people travelled from near and far to go along.

“It was encouraging to see the support for the Phoenix and the support that we could get from putting on interesting events,” she said.

“We had someone come from Germany for the Coldplay film screening and someone travelled from Newcastle for the League of Gentlemen event.

“It shows that if we do the right things people will support us.”

Speaking to the Ham&High before their event on March 17, both Mr Pemberton and Mr Shearsmith, who live locally, said they have a strong connection to the venue in the High Road.

The night was Ms Gold’s personal favourite.

“The League of Gentlemen night was very special,” she said. “People love what they do, and we’re lucky to have them living nearby and wanting to show their support.”

Altogether the online crowdfunding has raised £13,000, while another £9,000 was made from the fundraising weekend. Last week someone walked in off the street and donated a further £1,000.

The Phoenix still needs to subtract running costs from the fundraising weekend before coming up with a final amount.

“There is no prospect of us currently going back into any partnership. People are giving us money as they want us to stay independent,” said Ms Gold.

The venue also has a new executive director at the helm.

Neil Couzens, who previously worked at the JW3 centre in Finchley Road and Sadlers Wells Theatre in Islington, started in the role two weeks ago.

“We’re hoping that he can bring us the benefit of his experience of helping those institutions break even,” she said.

“If we can do that we can stay independent.”

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