Venue enjoying ‘best season ever’

Former projecionist Bill Thompson holds up a 35mm film'with Other former projecionists,and Janet Farmer and James Duffy
Former projecionist Bill Thompson holds up a 35mm film'with Other former projecionists,and Janet Farmer and James Duffy

TIMES are tough for many of us, but Pocklington Arts Centre is bucking the trend by enjoying its ‘best season ever’.

The Market Place venue has seen ticket sales rocket over recent weeks with numerous live events sold out for the spring/ summer season and all of the films screened in recent weeks performing well.

It comes as the arts centre converted its cinema to digital after the final 35mm screening on Tuesday evening.

Manager Janet Farmer says staff are delighted with the successful start to the year.

She said: “It is the best season ever since we opened. We are delighted in view of the economic climate. We are just so pleased it’s going so well.”

When asked what factors have contributed to the success, she said: “I think there’s a strong sense of ownership within the town and surrounding villages so they want to come in here. It’s very much part of their lives.

“Without blowing our own trumpet we programme what people want to see, I think. I think that’s the key, the programming.”

“I think, also, it’s a very friendly venue. All of our volunteer staff give such a warm welcome to people and I think that certainly helps the atmosphere generated here.”

However, despite the success, Janet is wary about the year ahead.

She added: “Whilst we are extremely pleased with our start to the year, we are also cautious for the year ahead with nationwide theatre attendance expected to drop this summer with the football European Championship and Olympics”.

Among the live events to sell out for the venue’s spring/summer season are comedian Russell Kane, singer/songwriter Rosanne Cash, blues rock band The Hamsters and singing sensation Elkie Brooks.

In terms of cinema attendances, films being shown during the month of January, including ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’, ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘My Week with Marilyn’, have each attracted hundreds of people to add to the arts centre’s success.

Tomorrow, 17 February, staff have another reason to celebrate, when it holds its first digital screening.

The digitisation project, which has cost about £50,000, has been funded by Pocklington Town Council, The Friends of Pocklington Arts Centre and the arts centre itself.

Janet says the conversion to digital is a necessity.

“Timing has been crucial”, she said.

“It’s something we’ve wanted to do for a couple of years now. But it has become more and more critical as the film companies actually fade out provision of 35mm films.

“So, another couple of years down the line, and there will be hardly anything available. So it’s not something we could not do.”

For its first digital screening, the arts centre will be showing the BAFTA and Academy Award nominated War Horse’ at 7.30pm.

Speaking on behalf of Pocklington Town Council, Mayor of Pocklington councillor Graham Perry said: “All of this is only possible because of the very professional leadership and management of Janet and James [Duffy] supported by their management team and the input from the Friends of Pocklington Arst Centre.”