Southsea community cinema on a mission to ‘enrich audiences’ needs help after funding disappointment

A SOUTHSEA community arts venue is calling for support to continue its work ‘enriching audiences’ as it struggles to keep up with high running costs.

Wednesday, 29th June 2022, 4:53 pm

Southsea Cinema and Art Centre opened in Palmerston Road in May of this year - but despite welcoming a full house of movie-goers every night, the arts venue needs financial support as it establishes itself as a business.

Aysegul Epengin, director of Portsmouth Film Society, has worked tirelessly over the past two years to open the arts space.

She said: ‘We are looking for grants that will help us operate, long-term funding applications that will make us viable and sustain us.

Aysegul Epengin outside Southsea Cinema and Arts Centre in Palmerston Road. Picture: Sarah Standing (190522-7757)

‘We were very successful in the building stage of the cinema but operation-wise, we are not an established business, we are in testing-trying mode.

‘We need more business mentoring advice and support - at least at the beginning of our business.’

‘It is a lovely place but it is expensive - we need help.’

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Aysegul added that there is clear demand for a cultural venue in Southsea, and said: ‘Every evening our cinema is full, we are showing films to the people, but the costs are so high.

‘We are enriching so many different audiences, from elderly to family members, dementia friendly screenings, we are setting up a filmmaking course, photography courses, workshops and tasters.

‘We are not only a cinema but an arts centre, doing lots of things in one place and bringing people together.’

Aysegul said that apart from help from the BFI, the cinema did not get the national support she hoped it would.

She applied for National Lottery Community funding four times, but was rejected on the basis that the fund deemed the project to be not community focused.

Aysegul said: ‘When they said we are not a community group, we were shocked.

‘It’s really heartbreaking for me to hear that after 12 years running a community project.’

A spokesperson for the National Lottery Community Fund said that while funding is ‘open to everyone’, the grants are ‘highly sought after with demand exceeding the money available’.

The spokesperson added: ‘Unfortunately this means we have to make difficult decisions.

‘We know how disappointing this can be for the project and community.’

Aysegul asks that anyone who might be able to help to email [email protected]