Keynotes: This Way Up 17

This Way Up  has come to the beautiful City of Hull, the City of Culture for 2017. Exhibitors from across the UK have gathered to learn and share knowledge about the concerns, challenges and developments that are currently facing the independent British cinema exhibition industry.

After a warm welcome address from Martin Green, CEO & Director of Hull City of Culture 2017, we heard from three keynote speakers who shed light on the key issues that are currently facing the British Film industry.

Moira Sinclair-Resilience
CEO of Paul Hamlyn Foundation 
Sinclair’s keynote focused primarily on resilience. At a time of great uncertainty, Sinclair highlighted the need for strength, camaraderie and change in this tough time for the exhibition industry. As the CEO of a funding body, she highlighted that a successful business model must include taking care of staff, investing in humans, and sharing a vision to serve communities.  Without a key sense of who your serving; artists, audiences and participants, then the purpose becomes muddled and lost. This is why, as Sinclair pointed out, organisations should not be looking to fit their vision around what funding bodies want; it is counter productive and loses a vital sense of purpose.  Resilience is vital, and everyone in the community can benefit from a willingness and desire to learn how to be better.

Jenny Sealey, MBE- Engaging D/deaf and disabled audiences
Artistic Director of Graeae Theatre Company
Jenny Searle MBE delivered a powerful keynote, confronting the dire need in the exhibition industry to engage D/deaf and disabled audiences.  Sealey highlighted the uncomfortable truth that, whilst diversity has moved along in recent times, D/deaf and disabled people are still very much being left in the dark; overlooked for work, and underrepresented in all areas of the arts. We still exist in a time where it is acceptable for able bodied actors to play disabled characters. Sealey’s solution is not radical; ask D/deaf and disabled people what they want. Work with and hire D/deaf and disabled people and engagement will increase.

Simran Hans- Reviewing Ethical Practices in the Exhibition Industry
Writer and Film Programmer
Simran’s keynote honed in on the importance of organisations practicing what they preach. As we celebrate the diversity that is flourishing with the rise of independent film collectives, she questioned how much we can celebrate without gaining a full understanding of what this means; are these collectives being fairly compensated for their work? Are young programmers and new members of the film industry really benefiting from the work they’re being offered if they’re not being paid? And what will our industry look like if only those who can afford to work for free take part?  Simran also touched on the more recent issues concerning the London living wage, and how ushers in cinemas are being treated; a seemingly endemic issue in the Capital. With diversity being co-opted by organisations who don’t follow ethical practices, Simran concluded with a call to arms, to dismantle the inequality faced within the industry.

The keynotes were followed by a discussion with the speakers, lead by Gaylene Gould, Head of Cinemas and Events at the BFI. What came out of the discussion is a need for a reinvention of the culture and the way in which organisations operate.  We are starting to see a refusal to accept the current power structures in place and the results of those, and a need for a radical change seems to be very much at the forefront of everybody’s minds.

Nia Childs

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