Leicester cinema prepares for lights, camera, action with Lloyds Bank support
Phoenix Cinema in Leicester is preparing to re-open its doors this autumn after receiving support from Lloyds Bank, as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
The independent cinema and art centre, which has become a cultural institution in the city since opening in 1963, was forced to close its doors on 17th March due to the coronavirus pandemic. The venue usually attracts up to 220,000 visitors per year and saw revenues drop instantly, placing most of its regular staff members on the government’s furlough scheme.
A six-figure CBILS loan from Lloyds Bank has provided working capital through the crisis including the local lockdown imposed in Leicester, which has caused a further delay to its re-opening. Following the easing of restrictions in parts of the city, the venue is bringing some staff back from furlough to prepare for reopening and is now implementing safety measures to ensure that it can safely welcome back film fans from 6th October.
While its doors have been closed, the financial support has also enabled Phoenix to continue with community outreach, providing a free online programme of films and educational activities to keep local residents entertained.
In the long term, the package has also provided stability required to carry on with its Phoenix 2020 expansion plan, which will see the venue almost double its capacity, add two new screens, a larger digital art gallery and extended café space.
John Rance, chief executive officer of Phoenix, said: “As a public venue we were hit particularly hard by the outbreak, with income from our cinemas, café and room hires falling to zero overnight. However, we’ve been taking the first steps towards recovery, and now we’re readying ourselves to welcome the community back again.
“The team at Lloyds Bank were quick to approach us as soon as the lockdown started. With their support we’ve been able to get through this difficult period, and we’re now in a position where we can start to look ahead again to future growth with our ongoing expansion.”
Phill Bateman, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “Phoenix is so much more than just a cinema, and the services it offers are vital to the local community here in Leicester. It’s been a difficult time for them, but it’s pleasing to see them getting ready to welcome people back through its doors.
“The landscape ahead is still unclear, and the film industry should know as well as anyone that life doesn’t always follow a script. We will remain by the side of the business through any further challenges it may face, and as it continues with its exciting expansion plans.”