Open Call for Guest Curation – Inclusion and Diversity Screening Days

Independent Cinema Office


Salary: £500 fee

The ICO is looking for three paid guest curator contributions to our next Inclusion and Diversity Screening Days event. The event is scheduled for 7 September online and 9 September at Brewery Arts in Kendal.

We want to hear from people inside and outside the film exhibition sector who want to develop contextualised film programmes and/or curated sessions (presentations, film programmes for national touring, panels, case studies, provocations, discussions, workshops, debates, Q&As and more). These should be aimed at increasing the diversity – across all intersectional areas of underrepresentation in film – of both the audiences and workforce of film.

You can attend an information session about this open call with our Projects and Business Manager Duncan Carson:

These are a good opportunity to put questions directly to the team and hone your application. We will share a link to a recording of the session to anyone who registers so even if you can’t make these two sessions, sign up and you’ll be able to watch later.

What is Inclusion and Diversity Audiences Screening Days?

Inclusion and Diversity Screening Days is a multiple-day event that offers perspectives on growing increasingly diverse audiences in independent venues, as well as offering preview screenings of titles that are likely to appeal to audiences currently underserved in independent cinemas.

We are seeking contributions to both the film programmes and session concepts programme to reach out beyond the networks and areas of expertise within the ICO.

What kinds of ideas are we looking for? What do you mean by ‘diversity and inclusion’?

We think everyone should be able to see life-enhancing films in the cinema and be able to work in film exhibition. But access is not equal across society and our industry, and audiences do not reflect our communities. So we want to use this space to think about practical steps to move towards equity of experience in cinemas for audiences and equity of access to jobs. Currently, our industry does not reflect the diversity of the UK in relation to racial and ethnic diversity, sexuality, gender, disability and class. We want to make a significant contribution in changing that, and this event forms part of our strategy.

We would like session ideas to be ambitious, inspiring and engaging, as useful as possible for cinemas to apply, and to focus on specific topics rather than general concepts. Possible formats are panel discussions, case studies, provocations, discussion groups, workshops, debates and more. If you have a film programme – preferably one that you have previously screened so you can talk about your experience as a case study – we can also welcome that as a platform for other independent cinemas to take it on. If your idea will help bring diverse audiences into cinemas, we want to hear it.

A few areas your session could cover:

  • Programming: screening a film and then speaking about the way you programmed it as an example of how it went beyond the established cinema audience. This could also serve as an opportunity to find partners for more screenings.
  • Marketing (e.g. ways to reach diverse or excluded groups, adaptations to current marketing channels)
  • Outreach and engagement programmes
  • Online audience development
  • Improving the working lives of people excluded or marginalised in the sector
  • Expanding the canon of cinema history
  • Development of diverse audiences in rural settings
  • Cinema operational adaptations to increase diversity

Please note that we are planning to deliver this event in a hybrid format incorporating both in-venue and virtual screenings and sessions. You are welcome to present in either format.

Is there a fee available?

We have budget for up to three external curators to be selected from this open call. If your idea is taken forward we can pay a fee of £500 for organising/administering the session, travel and accommodation budget to travel to the event and a pass to attend the event. There will also be an additional budget to cover speaker fees or other costs to deliver the event. If you plan to lead the session yourself, you are also eligible to receive the speaker fee. Your contribution will be acknowledged in the Screening Days info pack and on social media (if you would appreciate that). You may like to work with a partner, speakers or a group in which case the available fee will be split accordingly.

Who can make a proposal?

You do not need to work in film or a cinema to propose a session. If you have practical experience of diversifying audiences, then we want to hear from you. You do not need to deliver the session yourself; as long as you are able to develop it and have the direct connections for it to take place we want to hear from you. You are also welcome to deliver it yourself (for which additional payment is applicable).

What are we trying to achieve?

We want to influence people who work in cinemas and other exhibition spaces to be more ambitious around how they engage diverse audiences. We are looking for innovative topics and speaker suggestions to make these events as impactful and inspiring as possible.

Who are the sessions aimed at? Who attends Screening Days?

Screening Days are attended by people who work for cinemas, mixed-art venues, film societies, film festivals and community cinemas as well as staff of public funders and other agencies working to support film culture in the UK. They will probably work in film programming, marketing and audience development roles. They will likely have small budgets and limited staff time so it’s important that the events give them both inspiration and practical takeaways.

What support is available?

The ICO team are happy to work with you on organising and developing sessions if you’d like, or we can try and pair you with other curators who might like to partner with you. We are also able to provide accommodations for access that you – or anyone who you might engage for the session – might need. We also pay for accommodation, travel fees and event passes for you and your speakers to attend the event if traveling in person.

How and when should ideas be submitted?

The closing date for submissions is Tuesday 26 July at 10am. If you’re interested in taking part please send your session idea(s) to Duncan Carson, Projects and Business Manager at the ICO:

Your session idea should be no longer than one page and should include:

  • Session title
  • Session description (no more than 500 words)
  • Why you think this idea will help a wider group of people engage with independent venues and independent cinema
  • Suggested speakers (if applicable)

You are also welcome to send an audio or video recording of no more than 8 minutes describing your idea. Send a WeTransfer or private YouTube link to

All ideas are reviewed by the ICO internal team and the Screening Days Advisory Group. Once successful ideas have been selected to be taken forward, you will be given more guidance about session design and inviting speakers. We are happy to receive more than one suggestion if you have it.

We will let you know whether your idea has been accepted or not by 5 August, offering you around six weeks to prepare the programme if successful. We are happy to offer feedback on all submissions if desired.

The closing date for this position is 26/07/2022 at 10:00

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