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Community cinema launches at library

28 July 2017

A community-run cinema opened its doors this week after a campaign to discover new uses for Writtle library.
Library Cinema
After the Post Office relocated from the library to the nearby Co-op, Essex County Council encouraged the public to come up with community uses for the under-utilised space and Screen on the Green was born.

On Thursday night, the cinema welcomed 40 people for a showing of The Great Gatsby, a jazz-inspired film to coincide with the Writtle Jazz and Blues Festival on Sunday, 30 July. 

The not-for-profit cinema is the brainchild of friends Ben Sutherland and Lewis Walsh, who live in the village and first floated the idea at the Writtle Do brainstorming events earlier this year.

Ben said: “We want to offer interesting and affordable cinema to the community and hope that the variety of film choices, combined with the iconic village location, will offer a unique experience to visitors.

“The support we’ve received from residents, local businesses, Essex County Council and the Parish Council has been extremely motivating.

“Essex County Council has been fundamental to the creation of the cinema because it was the Writtle Do events that sparked the initial idea and the library service has been incredibly generous with their time and of course providing the venue.”

Writtle Parish Council helped fund a big screen projector and other equipment, while the Bridge Street Lounge and Grill is offering a 25% discount to people with Screen on the Green tickets before films are shown.

Cllr John Aldridge, Chairman of Essex County Council and the member for Writtle, said: “The Essex Library Service is changing and the innovative concept of Screen on the Green breathes new life into the venue.

“I congratulate Ben, Lewis and Deputy Library Supervisor Caroline Cox for this excellent initiative and all those who have contributed to this inspiring project.”

The community-cinema is just one new use for the library to come out of the Writtle Do. The Writtle Chess Club now plays its league matches at the library and a seated yoga class and poetry club are also making use of the venue.

Essex County Council has run similar brainstorming sessions in libraries across the county, where residents dreamed up a host of ideas, including @BillericayCine, the award-winning community cinema in Billericay library; seated exercise classes in Pitsea and a fitness club in Harwich.

Cllr Susan Barker, Cabinet Member responsible for libraries, added: “We want to work with residents to create vibrant community hubs that will help our libraries continue to flourish.

“Screen on the Green, seated yoga and all of the other ideas to come out of the Writtle Do are fantastic community-spirited examples of how people can really make the most of their local library.

“I hope this inspires others across the county. If you have ideas that can help strengthen our communities but need a venue to become a reality, please get in touch with your local library.”