Open Call for Guest Curation – Young Audiences Screening Days

Independent Cinema Office


Salary: £500 fee

The ICO is looking for paid guest curators to provide session ideas for our next Young Audiences Screening Days event. We need the best ideas for how independent cinemas can reach young audiences (children and young people under 30). The event is scheduled to take place online on 4 July and 6 July at Depot Lewes and online.

We want to hear from people inside and outside the film exhibition sector who want to develop  curated sessions or film programme ideas. You’ll provide the concept and pull together speakers to help illustrate the thinking behind it. We are looking for presentations, film programmes that can tour to indie cinemas, panels, case studies, provocations, discussions, workshops, debates, Q&As and more. These should be aimed at increasing the number of children and people aged 16–30 who engage with British independent and world cinema in independent venues across the UK.

Does this sound like something you could help us with? Good!

To find out more you can either read the longer guidance below or attend one of our information sessions.

You can attend an information session about this open call on:

This is the best way to get up to speed on what we’re looking for from this open call, and you can put questions directly to our team. Even if you can’t attend during the time slot, if you register, you’ll receive the recording afterwards. You do not need to have your camera on to attend this session, and you can ask questions either on camera or via the chat function. Our sessions are captioned (live and on the recording) for those who use them.

If you want to ask a question about the open call, you can email or

What is Young Audiences Screening Days?

Young Audiences Screening Days is a two day event that offers perspectives on building young audiences in independent venues, as well as offering preview screenings of titles that are likely to appeal to people aged 16–30 and children. We can also accept concepts that help increase the representation and experience as employees and volunteers in independent film exhibition.

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

What kinds of ideas are we looking for?

If your idea will help engage young audiences – wherever the context – we want to hear it. 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. There must be a practical outcome for cinemas to be able to apply in their own setting or a proposal that they can show in their own screens (with context as to how to grow audiences).

Possible formats are panel discussions, case studies, provocations, discussion groups, workshops and more. We also are keen to have ideas for film programmes that are an opportunity to speak about the film itself, and the context of how you screened it if that helped diversify the audience. We especially are interested in films that represent or are drawn from excluded or marginalised histories.

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. how to reach younger people)
  • Embedding young people into your venue (e.g. as members of staff, as board members)
  • Outreach and engagement programmes
  • Education programmes
  • Online audience development

Take a look at the most recent editions of Young Audiences Screening Days to get an idea of what kind of sessions we’ve hosted (but remember that expanding our frame of reference is why we’re hosting an open call):

A few examples of sessions we have hosted from our open call for this event:

Welcoming Working-Class Young People: In this session, Dr Leanne Dawson discussed the low-cost and no-cost practical changes that film organisations can make to get audiences over the threshold and to help working-class people thrive in their early career in film.

The Memeification of Your Film Business: Engaging Young Audiences through Social Media Marketing: In this session led by Shelby Cooke, we discovered how memes and other youth-oriented social media techniques are scalable for all organisations, how to hone a voice that sits alongside your existing brands and how memes can bring in real audiences.

Is there a fee available?

If your idea is taken forward we can pay a fee of £500 for organising/administering the session, as well as 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 a speaker fee in addition to your curator 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 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 working with young people, 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). We welcome international submissions for this open call.

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 young people. We are looking for innovative topics and speaker suggestions to make these events as impactful and inspiring as possible. We want to draw on experiences wider than those who currently work at ICO. You can read here about our current staff demographics, but we are especially looking for contributions that focus on ethnically diverse audiences, working class audiences and disabled audiences. We think that people from these groups are also most likely to have ideas on how to improve results with these audiences.

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 can provide travel, accommodation, digital costs (e.g. mobile top up) and caring costs (budget permitting) for anyone who is working with you on the session.

How and when should ideas be submitted?

The closing date for submissions is Wednesday 24th May at 5PM. 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 younger audiences 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. We are judging only on content (don’t spend any time on fancy editing or cinematography!). 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 if your idea has been accepted or not by 31 May, offering you around four weeks to prepare the programme if successful. We are happy to offer feedback on all submissions if requested, and we let all applicants know the outcome of their submission.

The closing date for this position is 28/04/2022 at 10:00

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