Building Inclusion & Reaching Out To New Audiences
Directed by Madeleine Probst (Vice-President of Europa Cinemas & Watershed Cinema Programme Producer, GB together with Hrvoje Laurenta (Manager, Kino Europa, Croazia), Mathias Holtz (Programming Manager, Folkets Hus och Parker, Svezia) and Daniel Sibbers (Director of Marketing, Yorck Kinogruppe, Germania) with a special guest contribution from social media expert Marco Odasso
2017 marks the 25th birthday of the Europa Cinemas network; now established in 654 towns in 41 countries, representing 1,088 cinemas with 2,684 screens. On this special anniversary year, cinema practitioners from across Europe and beyond gather at Il Cinema Ritrovato to reflect on the past, present and future of cinema for the 13th edition of Europa Cinemas’ Audience Development & Innovation Lab.
With some 40 million admissions for European films in 2016, we really have something to celebrate. The Europa Cinemas network continues to underpin the life of European films, playing a key role in creating demand for diverse films and promoting the value of cinema going culture amidst an increasingly competitive multi-platform market. These are challenging times for cinemas but also present opportunities to think creatively about the uniqueness of venues’ cultural offer and audience experience and engagement.
As highlighted in a recent survey of innovation commissioned by Europa Cinemas (New Approaches to Audience Building), “innovation for cinemas is not an abstract idea. Venues live or die by their ability to connect to audiences”. What the labs do provide is a vital research and development space for sharing experiments. Over the past 13 years, labs in Bologna as well as offshoots in Sofia and Sevilla, have brought together some 1,000 participants to consider the vital question of how to develop audiences for a broader diet of film.
In this latest Audience Development and Innovation Lab, there’ll be lots of hands-on practical workshops, informed by Samuel Beckett’s insightful maxim: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better”. With the added ingredient of sharing!
We will draw on practical case studies to rethink and re-energise our approaches; and what better place than Il Cinema Ritrovato to make this happen; a festival that’s living and breathing proof that our rich cinema heritage is very much alive; as is the collective ritual of coming together to watch great films, most spectacularly al fresco on the breathtaking Piazza Maggiore.
As Jean-Luc Godard once stated, “cinema generates memory, television fabricates forgetting” and this year’s lab will reflect on the role that cinemas and images can play in creating and shaping our individual and collective memories, also a central theme for the Festival.
We will tackle topics such as getting to know existing and new audiences better and how to reach out to audiences with personalised content, tone and timing and a relevant programme offer. We’ll think about those that are not coming and the reasons why. What might be barriers to engagement, in particular in relation to younger generations of digital natives that perhaps haven’t grown up with the idea that the cinema is for them? Can they not afford the cinema, are they getting lost in the multitude of content and experiences available on-line?
With help from social media experts such as Marco Odasso and leading cinema practitioners including Hrvoje Laurenta (Kino Europa in Zagreb, Europa Cinemas Awards 2016 – Best Programming winner), we’ll explore practical ways to become more discoverable and visible, to build a community and generate a buzz on a budget. We might also learn a thing or two from a new generation of writers, bloggers and youtubers that are reaching out to online audiences.
We’ll also look at inclusive and forward-thinking approaches to access and audience development in-venue and online. As author and diversity consultant Vernā Myers put it: “diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”.
We’ll explore how more inclusive organisational cultures can help build awareness and engagement with audiences and why ‘making a habit’ of constant innovation is probably the key to staying relevant.
Buon Festival! Here’s to another 25 years!