Unless you’ve been living on the Galapagos islands, or some such other incredibly remote location (which might not be a bad idea at the moment), you’ve probably heard more than enough already about the Coronavirus (or Covid-19, as its mum calls it when it’s in trouble).
Much like many other companies in the events industry, we’re following the news on a daily basis and relying on professional advice from those best-educated to inform us about the virus and its likely impact on the UK and wider world. As we all know, the control measures are changing on a daily basis, and the steps we’ll need to take as an outdoor cinema company to keep our customers and staff safe will undoubtedly be spelled out over the coming weeks.
At present, we’re seven weeks away from the beginning of our open air cinema season, and let’s be honest, none of us have any idea quite where we’ll be with all this tomorrow, let alone in 50 days’ time. All we can do for now is follow official guidance from the UK Government and Public Health England, and so for the time being we’re busying ourselves with all the usual work and planning that goes into staging our shows.
We do know that all of our screenings have audiences of just a few hundred people, and each show takes place outdoors in the fresh air, with plenty of room for audience members to spread out. Based on current thinking from PHE, that makes them really low risk, and so we hope we’ll be fine to go ahead with performances in May and beyond. We know that people are seeing the likes of Glastonbury and other major music and sporting events being cancelled, but in terms of audience numbers and risk, we’re very different to those types of event, and will be considered differently by the government and regulatory bodies.
However, if advice were to be given that we shouldn’t proceed with our events, then we would of course treat the health and well-being of our audiences and staff as a priority and postpone or cancel screenings. All customers would be given full refunds if we were to cancel shows.
This would be a really big deal for us; as a tiny, independent business (much like many other event companies, big and small) we rely on ticket sales to pay our bills and look after our families. We couldn’t have imagined a scenario such as the one we’re all currently facing being the thing that might make or break us, but here we are, and that’s life.
So, we’ll make the right decisions at the right time, based on the professional information we’re given by smarter people than us. In the meantime, please do listen to advice from reputable sources, look out for each other, wash your hands, don’t dash around Tesco loading up the trolley as if you’re on Supermarket Sweep, and we look forward to offering you some big screen escapism in the open air this summer…we’ll probably all need it!
Andrew, Alfresco Film