What we do

Our mission is to develop an open, challenging and thriving film sector. We are the UK’s national body that supports independent cinemas of all forms. We want everyone to have access to cinema that nourishes the soul and changes lives. We are a charity and a company limited by guarantee.

  • We programme a network of over 20 cinemas, festivals and mixed arts venues so that anyone can access a shared experience of life-changing cinema in their community, offering a wider range of films to a wider range of people.
  • We offer training so that independent cinema professionals can benefit from high-level knowledge that ensure our sector is successful, innovative and progressive.
  • We offer consultancy to help start, save and grow cinemas, making sure they stay economically viable and build their capacity.
  • We distribute films that make a contribution to the diversity of cinema culture in the UK and make a cultural intervention into the marketplace.
  • We offer free advice and information to make sure that everyone can show films and take part in our sector.
  • We run events for cinema professionals that help build a robust sector and encourage collaboration.

Why ‘open, challenging and thriving’?

We want to build an open, thriving and challenging film sector across the UK. These three values are at the heart of our work at the Independent Cinema Office. Here’s why:

Open: We value openness in our work because we believe that cinema has power as an art form because of its accessibility and inclusivity.  Almost everyone has a connection with film. Our sector can only thrive when what is shown on screen reflects everyone’s experience and when everyone has the opportunity to contribute their talents to the sector’s growth. Collaboration is at the heart of what we do and we believe it’s only through collaboration and discussion that change is possible.

Challenging: We firmly believe that cinema is a powerful force for change and significantly improves people’s lives. We stand for cinema that transforms lives and nourishes souls. We want everyone, everywhere to be able to have experiences at the cinema that are thought-provoking and offer people the chance to understand other peoples’ experiences. We support bold work that encourages new thought and innovative, progressive thinking in the exhibition sector.

Thriving: We want a film exhibition sector that is not only sustainable but also successful. Without this, we cannot hope to meet our other visions. We help to offer best practice models that ensure that cinemas at all levels can develop. We share our knowledge of creating and developing new cinemas so that the sector can grow. We help develop new models to make sure that independent cinema adapts to and thrives in changing times.

What do we mean by an ‘independent cinema’?

‘Independent cinema’ can mean a lot of things to different people. At the Independent Cinema Office, we support and work towards independent cinemas that share our vision, which are independent cinemas that:

  • value everyone in their community and welcome them as guests and participants
  • focus on communication, curiosity, passion and discussion
  • lead the way in creativity, with a broad programme of films from all over the world
  • allow everyone to see their experience represented on screen
  • are powered by the best knowledge and skills and are pioneering
  • are a space to discover ideas, experiences, viewpoints and people

How do we work?

In all our work, we strive to:

  • cater for people at every skill level, whether they’ve never shown a film before or run a chain of cinemas
  • ensure that our advice is impartial and independent
  • offer routes to sustainability and growth
  • deliver the highest level of expertise, proven by many years of experience
  • are collaborative, supportive and value the opinions of others, and always look to forge partnerships

Our annual reports

The best way to understand how we work is to read our annual reports, featuring overviews of our projects and snapshots of what’s happening in independent cinema right now.

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