AN INDEPENDENT cinema has continued to support the community during the coronavirus pandemic whilst preparing for a future reopening.

Staff of Plaza Cinemas in Workington are focusing their efforts on those in need as the branch is not yet ready to reopen.

The cinema in Dunmail Park is owned by Graves Cumberland Limited, whose head of operations and finance Daryl Davidson said: “We’re working on a number of plans on how we can get the cinema back up and running.”

Daryl added that the timing of the cinema’s reopening needs to be right.

“We plan to open as soon as we think it’s going to be worthwhile doing so. We need to look after our people.”

She said: “We have no control over the product, that’s the difficult thing.”

Many production houses are delaying the release of major blockbusters to avoid making a loss. However, Daryl paid tribute to the continued work of the cinema’s staff in the community.

Staff of Plaza Cinema in Workington have made the best of their time whilst on furlough, donating unused treats to community groups and foodbanks. The Flimby Community Vulnerale Persons group is the latest organisation to benefit, with staff member Sandra Mckeown donating food to their centre at Ryehill Road on Monday.

The Alhambra Cinema in Keswick is set to return from lockdown even stronger.

Thanks to their large auditorium and ample room to social distance, the cinema has already reopened. Screenings restarted at the Keswick cinema on Friday.

Owners Carol Rennie and her husband Alan Hasler have made improvements to the cinema during lockdown, continuing a refurbishment financed by the public with a crowdfunding appeal.

Carol said: “We’ve used the opportunity of being closed to have a full refurb of our foyer.”

Speaking of improvements, Carol said: “That’s what we hope we’ll remember in the future rather than the year that we lost money.”

Independent cinemas like the Alhambra will benefit from a British Film Institute recovery scheme offering £30 million worth of support grants.

“We’ve already had some funds from the BFI now it looks like we’re going to get another £10,000 to £20,000.”

Carol added that the funds will help to cover outgoing costs at the cinema following the financial loss of lockdown.

“Independent cinemas like our own will be able to benefit from it.”

The cinema is also set to access funding from Government grants.

“The Government has been really good in everything it has done to help us,” she said. “We feel we have been really well supported.”

Carol added that the Alhambra is in a fortunate position as a small family-run cinema.

“We’re very lucky because we’re an owner-operated cinema with low staff costs – we haven’t had huge outgoings.”