The Picture House

The Picture House Blog, behind the silver screen.

Behind the silver screen.

Hebden Bridge Picture House, built in 1921, is one of last civic owned Cinemas in the country. Since  taking the management reins in 2013, Rebekah Fozard has created a vibrant and diverse programme.

As well as locals, Patrons come from far and wide, “We had a visitor from Canada who was here on holiday,” Rebekah tells me.

The picture house certainly knows how to pull a crowd. Some come for the cult classics, others for the National Theatre live screenings or the Elevenses matinées.

The Picture House Blog, behind the silver screen.

The Iconic Picture House

There are summer holiday programmes, live streamed events, art house films and of course the simply joyous “A Wonderful Life,” at Christmas.

“Where else can you pop to the market, see a film and go for lunch all in one morning?”

“People come for the little things,” says    Rebekah, “like the cake and the mugs of tea,” and while the Cinema prides itself on its international appeal, its roots are very much in the community. The cakes, for example, are made locally by Towngate Tearooms in Heptonstall. The vintage balcony seating is being upholstered by a Mytholmroyd based contractor. Rebekah was keen to point out that the Picture House is invested in the local community that it serves.

The Picture House Blog

Rebekah Fozard, David Nixon & Frida.

Cash is King

“I love that sign outside Maskill’s Butchers that says ‘cash is king’,” says Rebekah enthusiastically. The Picture House, like Maskill’s is a cash only business. “The reason for this is mainly financial,” continues Rebekah, “Taking card payments is slow and we would have to employ another member of staff.” In fact the figures are quite remarkable: if the Picture House used a card payment and online booking system for convenience, it would cost an extra £20,000 in staff costs and £10,000 in bank charges – quite decidedly inconvenient.

“The best way to support the PICTURE HOUSE, is to go and see a film.”

While the Picture House has already fought off the threat of closure through the dedication of a professional team, it remains a constant endeavour to put bums on seats. We need to adapt our 21st Century digital mindsets to continue to strengthen and enrich our community through local enterprise. Some visitors to the cinema believe it to be staffed by volunteers, or that it is grant maintained. Neither of these assumptions are true. Nevertheless, The Hebden Bridge Picture house is a viable business for the town providing employment and training, using modern technologies, and a vibrant programme, it provides entertainment, information and education.

While focussed on the future, they have embraced their rich heritage in a more traditional format: The Hebden Bridge Picture House History Book, with a chapter written by manager, Rebekah Fozard.

There is strength in a local cash economy. Our town is supported by linked trades, shops and services. Most importantly there is a real sense of pride about the work that is being done. This is just the beginning of a year long exploration of our local, linked businesses, and how a small business economy might come together to weather the storm of austerity and economic uncertainty.

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Next time: “Cash is King”


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