Curzon’s centenary celebrations
EMBEDDED in the history and community spirit of Clevedon, The Curzon Community Cinema celebrated its 100th birthday this weekend.
Since being built in 1912, it has survived two world wars and stayed afloat while many other independent cinemas have closed.
Managed by a team of trustees and a huge band of volunteers, the Curzon is going from strength to strength with plans in place to continue restoring the building back to its former glory.
In 2010, the covers came off a project which opened up many areas largely unseen since the 1970s and restored rooms such as the Oak Room and Upper Gallery. A section of the badly damaged roof was also repaired.
The next project will be to begin raising money to repair the rest of the leaking roof, remove the auditorium’s false ceiling and reopen the balcony. This is likely to cost more than �2million to complete, however, staff and trustees determined to keep the Curzon going for many more years, are confident the project can be fulfilled.
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Director Gareth Negus said: “The Curzon has been part of the community for so long it would be like Clevedon losing a limb if it vanished. It is embedded really deeply in Clevedon.
“We get people coming here who used to come as a child and now bring their children and even grandchildren.”
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In recent years, trustees have been keen to embrace new technology and a smartphone app now enables visitors to be taken on a guided tour while learning about its history.
Its history and its restoration also mean the Curzon has become a great, community education resource as well as a popular cinema.
Chairman of trustees Hilary Neal said: “What we think we have here is the embodiment of the history of film and cinema from the very early days to the present.
“The building is very important in its own right.
“You get to experience something different to just watching a film.”
TO MARK the Curzon’s 100th year and also raise funds for the next restoration project, a series of events and initiatives have been organised for 2012.
Most significantly was the centenary open weekend, which took place on Saturday and Sunday and saw money being raised for the Curzon as well as the Portishead and Bristol Lifeboat Trust.
Visitors could explore parts of the Curzon not usually open to the public, meet characters from its history played by members of Clevedon Comedy Club and Clevedon Players, view archive film and take a look around the Curzon Collection of projectors and cinema equipment. A mini cinema also showed titles including The Great Train Robbery and Painted Lady.
On Sunday afternoon, organist Byron Jones accompanied the 1913 silent comedy, Race for a Life, on the Christie Cinema Organ, which was built in 1931 and restored by a dedicated team of volunteers in time for the centenary. On Sunday evening, a special screening of A Night to Remember was held – the classic drama tells the story of the Titanic disaster.
To continue the centenary celebrations, An Evening with Tony Robinson will be held on May 18 at 7.45pm. Tony, a patron of the cinema who has also voiced the cinema’s audio history available to hear in the foyer, will talk about his career as an actor, writer and presenter. The interview will be conducted by Clevedon filmmaker Niall Johnson. Tickets, priced �10-13, are on sale now.
Other events will include a children’s parade due to be held in July, a fundraising evening to be held at Clevedon Court in September and organ concerts in June and October.
How you can support the Curzon:
* Become a Friend of the Curzon: Launched this year, the scheme allows members to receive free tickets, discount vouchers and reduced ticket prices for special events. A single annual membership costs �75 or a joint membership costs �125.
* Volunteer: The Curzon is always looking to add to the current band of more than 100 volunteers already helping to run the cinema. Roles can include becoming a guide, helping with building maintenance, distributing publicity or helping to fundraise.
* Donate: After completing the first stage of renovations, the cinema needs to replenish its funds to begin approaching organisations for future funding. Pick up an information leaflet from the Curzon, donate online at www.charitygiving.co.uk or text CURZ12 �(amount) to 70070.
For more details about the Curzon and its film programme visit www.curzon.org.uk or call the box office on 01275 871000.