An independent cinema in north Cumbria has secured funding to launch a youth cinema project, which aims to encourage young people to take an interest in the industry.

A £5,000 grant from the British Film Institute (BFI) will allow the launch of the Young Programmers initiative the Alhambra Cinema in Keswick.

The initiative, which will be administered by Film Hub North, will see 21 sixth formers from Keswick School help the cinema to programme one feature a week.

Keswick Cinema co-owner, Carol Rennie, said she hopes it will help the cinema attract younger audiences to its second screen.

"We're really hoping to attract more audiences now," said Carol.

"Even though Keswick is a small town and doesn't have a lot of young people living in it, a lot of young people come to Keswick School.

"In the past, we often didn't show films that might be big blockbusters, whose target audience was mainly the 16 - 30-year-olds."

The cinema is nearly at the end of its renovation work, which will see the front of the 108-year-old building renovated and a brand new second screen put in place.

Carol said she hopes the cinema will be open by the end of September at the very latest, when visitors will be treated to a showing of James Bond.

Although attracting younger audiences will be a "key plank" for the cinema, Carol insists holiday makers and second home owners still play a key part in the Alhambra's continued survival.

She added: "A huge proportion of our visitors are people who either have second homes here, or come here every year.

"These visitors and second home owners are almost part of the community in terms of their support for the cinema and theatre.

"They might not live here all-year-round, but when they are here they are actually supporting these facilities."

The cinema has also been considering how it will welcome visitors back in relation to Covid-19 precautions.

A survey carried out recently by the Alhambra found that "there are quite a lot of people who still want social distancing and would be happy to wear masks".

"We will certainly look at what other cinemas are doing," said Carol.

"When you look at cinema attendance in general, it's high. There are plenty of people who aren't worried about going.

"It's just that the people who are vulnerable and are more worried are becoming marginalised.

"For cinemas and other venues, there are people who are more nervous and are finding themselves marginalised.

"Our question as an ethical venue is to decide how much do we want to cater for those people who do want to come, but feel more vulnerable, are more vulnerable and want stricter controls.

"We haven't made a decision on what we're going to do, but we would like to cater for those people."

Keep up to date with how the Alhambra Cinema is coming along on their Facebook page.

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