Independent cinema set to close its doors

Lee Hockaday, commercial director at St Vincent College, Gosport

Gosport cinema ‘has to be sustainable’ says director

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PORTSMOUTH’S only independent cinema will close its doors for six months as its owners work out how to stop it losing money.

No.6 Cinema in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard has the only regular screenings of world cinema in the city.

But poor audience figures mean it is failing to break even and will close for the second time in two years on March 10.

The decision has been made by the cinema’s owners, Portsmouth Naval Base Property Trust, which said it aims to reopen No.6 in September once a new business plan has been put in place.

Nick Hewitt, the trust’s head of attractions and collections, said: ‘It’s losing money and we’re not just talking pocket change. The cinema’s overheads exceed its ability to generate income.’

The cinema was started by a private businessman in 2005 but he closed it in February 2009. Two former employees approached the trust which decided to reopen the cinema in July 2009.

Mr Hewitt said: ‘We inherited a structure that is unsustainable.

‘We need to take some time over the summer to develop a more sustainable business plan. We need to look at how we are going to integrate this in to our business.’

The cinema needs at least 35 people at each screening to cover its costs, Mr Hewitt said.

‘But some are as low as 10 or 12,’ he added.

‘We need to work out what is not going to plan with the cinema at the moment and we’re open to suggestions from all sorts of people who might have an idea of how to get more people in.’

The cinema’s events manager Siri Firness helped reopen No.6 in 2009 and regularly lays on food and musical entertainment ahead of Saturday night screenings.

She said: ‘I’m very disappointed with the whole thing but I believe the way the trust will start us up again in September will be a good thing and I look forward to running events again.

‘We did not have big enough audiences to break even and that’s been a big problem.

‘I don’t think it was the films we were showing. They were good but they didn’t reach the audiences we would have hoped for due to lack of advertising.

‘We didn’t have any money for advertising. We’ve been relying on our fantastic volunteers to help trawl the city with leaflets.

‘We also had listings in The News and on Express FM but no other advertising.’