Nice to chat yesterday, and I’m excited for you in your venture that now seems likely to proceed.
It seems we are doing in Mudgee, exactly the same thing you envision doing in Yass. The Town Hall Theatre is multi-functional and is in heavy demand these days for theatre, concerts, movies, meetings, art displays and other community events.
In July 2013, the Mudgee Town Hall Cinema opened its doors for the first time, screening The Great Gatsby to a packed house. Since then, the Cinema has run one weekend every month, with overwhelming community support.
Mid Western Regional Council who spearheaded the restoration of the Town Hall Theatre, asked me towards the end of the Town Hall refurbishment last year, if our Rotary club would be interested in running the Cinema facilities as a Community Service Project. As the installer of the technical equipment, and as current President of our club, that seemed a logical thing to do.
There was much discussion as to how it may work, and we decided to commit to a six month trial period. There are two Rotary Clubs in Mudgee and we are both involved in running the project, sharing the labour, setup costs (popcorn machines etc), and profit evenly.
We have 24 members in each club, and in the 6 month trial period we made approximately $22,000 for our clubs. That money of course, is returned to the community for various projects we support.
The actual running of the venture works as follows. MWRC has set up accounts with each of the major movie distributors. The Council is responsible for paying the distributor’s fees for each movie, and they also decide two months in advance, which movies will be screened.
There is a Cinema committee which meets the Thursday after each screening weekend to discuss the weekend, publicity, refine procedures etc. The committee has members from Council and each Rotary club.
Rotary is responsible for rostering ushers, ticket sales people, projectionist, and Snack Bar Staff. The cinema staff clean up and straighten chairs between shows, and keep track of each session’s cash in a secure box. Ticket sales money and Snack Bar money are kept separate. Council pays the movie distributors, takes an administration fee and gives Rotary the balance from the ticket money.
Rotary runs the Snack Bar as a separate entity. We bought two popcorn machines, and provide the usual Movie Snacks at ridiculously low prices, whilst still making a tidy profit on that.
Pre-show movie advertising is also starting to happen which generates extra income for Rotary and Council. The Council charges us a nominal fee for ad space, and Rotary does the selling and production.
It works out in practice, that Rotary members are required to be in attendance for one screening session per month (maybe two) which is not a huge time commitment for the benefits achieved.
There are of course many more advantages to this venture than providing a steady income for Rotary. It has raised the Council’s and Rotary’s profile in the community, provided a well patronised outlet for movies, it has provided a joint venture for our two Rotary Clubs and has attracted much interest from the wider community.
The overall consensus is that this Community Cinema venture is a huge success.
I have attached a sample roster from last month so you can see how our scheduling works, and a link to the current movies for next month. If you would like to join us next month for a screening, please make sure you let me know and we will give you the inside tour.
Looking forward to helping you in any way we can,
W: 6373 4555
M: 0409 300 855