THE RITZ CINEMA
There are few buildings in Lincoln that can provoke more nostalgic affection than The Ritz Cinema on Lincoln’s High Street, both due to the appeal of the older and more charming generations of cinematic masterpieces that were shown at the venue and the realisation it may well be Lincoln’s finest architectural example of a classic Art Deco building.
Many of Lincoln’s old cinemas were unremarkable and quickly declined into nothing but distant memories of a building that once was, but The Ritz has remained and stood the test of time. Laying dormant and semi derlict for well over a decade the building houses the dust covered remains of the original cinema on the upper floors and we fully intend to bring this building back to life as a fully operation period cinematic experience and community hub for Lincoln’s High Street once again.
Basically what we are trying to do is reopen The Ritz Cinema as an independent cinema for Lincoln and as a much need competition to the massively over prices multiplex that Lincoln has - a mulitplex that remains the most expensive cinema in the UK outside of London.
But we NEED your help...
What We Need & What You Get
"Going back into the Ritz after it had laid dormant for well over a decade was a moment I had dreamt of for years. What would it be like? Would the seat I always sat in as a child still be there? Would it smell the same? And would it evoke images and memories of my solitary teenage years when I spent every free moment I had sat in that dark auditorium escaping my mundane teenage existence into the magical world of cinema.
The first time I climbed those stairs again was a pitch black and cold November night, well after 10pm. There were no lights, no electricity, and all I had to light my way was the small dim light of my mobile phone. As I reached the top of the stairs I was instantly transported to the cathedral of my youth, I didn’t see the tables and chairs rotting from the prolonged damp, I didn’t see the plaster falling off the walls and broken shutters above the bar. I didn’t see the smashed windows and the broken neon interior signage. What I saw was a bustling cinema, I smelt the popcorn and heard the ticket machine rolling out ticket after ticket, I heard the rip as the ticket stubs we’re torn off buy the beautiful usherettes I had admired as a teenager and I saw a huge screen projected with film after film and memory after memory.
Some weeks later, with a freshly signed 25-year lease in my hands I re-entered with an electrician to bring light back into the sleeping giant for the first time in 16 years. Needless to say, once the lights were on and the building was illuminated the fog very quickly cleared and my mystified memories of the greatest age of cinema were replaced with the cold hard reality of the task ahead of me. To say the old girl needed a little work was a monumental understatement.
The road ahead has proved to be one of the most difficult journeys of my life, far more difficult than I could of ever thought possible. My relationship with the building has gone from the deepest of love to the worst resentment and back to misty eyed love again. I’ve experienced every emotion possible with this project, I’ve met some fantastic new people, and made some spectacular new friends along the way, but at the same time I’ve lost some dear friends and treasured colleagues during the difficulties of this process, and at points almost lost my mind as well. I’ve gone from spending every moment possible in the building researching new areas, finding new rooms, planning and designing how it will look when restored and documenting the process with a film crew to locking and bolting the doors and not stepping foot in the place for weeks on end, at my lowest points I have even avoided driving past the place for fear of negative emotions taking hold on me.
The Ritz was my first love and will always hold that special place in my heart, I could never desert her and likewise she will never let me go to get on with my life until I have restored the cinema back to its former glory. After months of consultation and research we are finally at the stage where we can move forward and our dreams for this wonderful building can start to gather some pace. For me, I am back in there almost daily doing what I can, working on the plans to restore the upper floors and developing the activities and projects that will take place in the building when it reopens.
There is so much we want to accomplish with The Ritz and we have a huge journey ahead of us. It’s a journey we can’t follow alone and we have never once pretended we could. It’s a journey we will have to follow with each and every one of you, we still need all the help we can get and with this monumental project we probably always will" - Pete Genders, CEO
We are looking to raise £30,000 through this indigogo campaign to help us Regenerate, Reveive & Reopen this fantastic Art Deco Building.
We have put together some outstanding and unique perks as rewards for any generous donations that we recieve, we are not asking for charity, we are asking for the whole community to come together and help us reopen this outstanding and much needed venue as a 1930's cinematic experience and live act venue.
We have perks from as little as £1 right up £1000 to cater for anyone who wants to help no matter how small.
Its really hard to explain the huge impact that reopening and reviving this cinema has already had on Lincoln and the impact it will continue to have. I guess if you are here reading this page the chances are you have already heard about the project and have your own memories of the building. If you have, please do comment and share them on here, we would love to hear them.
What we are doing…
DURING THE RENOVATION
Engage local groups in a series of art projects that relate to the Ritz’s former use as a theatre, concert and cinema venue. One idea is to use surviving ticket stubs to create Roman Mosaic style collages. These could be used to create images of High Street through the centuries, depictions of film stars (such as Roman Gods/Goddesses)
The Ritz in Context:
Through a series of guided walks and presentations, raise awareness of the contribution The Ritz makes to the eclectic character of High street. This will include looking at the international influences within the architecture of buildings, highlighting the influence non-U.K. cultures have had over Lincoln’s historical development
Recording the Ritz:
Within the constraints of Health and Safety legislation, community groups will be shown round the Ritz and encouraged to take photographs or make drawings of the chronology of features that illustrate the building’s past. These will then go on to form the basis of a “conservation report”, and inspire the renovation of internal areas
Re-designing the Ritz:
Working with local students and community groups the chronology of interior design schemes for the range of internal rooms will be researched and designed.
The Ritz in Memory:
Community groups will undertake “oral history” projects that investigate and record the social history of the building. For example school groups will ask parents/grandparents for their memories of the Ritz cinema, e.g. what films they saw there, significant life events that took place there, what was there before the Ritz
Renovating the Ritz:
community groups will have the opportunity to participate in the actual repair and renovation of The Ritz. Health and Safety constraints allowing.
Organised film nights for local people to exhibit their own films, these may take on themed evenings (e.g. sport, heritage, Lincoln). These could be carried out in conjunction with educational initiatives in the history of film and film-making. These could include working in conjunction with local educational institutions and as holiday clubs
Multimedia and performing arts venue:
Use the large stage and AV facilities at the Ritz as a lecture theatre for schools, conferences and other events. This service could be provided free of charge to partner organisations, or funded through ticket sales. marketing, working with children and young people, and intergenerational development work.
Provide holiday workshops involving pupils in film-making, art-deco period activities and other cross-curriculum projects. These could be provided to pupils of both primary and secondary school age.
Themed nights and film festivals:
These will focus on key subjects (including architecture, local history), events (e.g local food festivals, Waddington Air Show, Christmas Market), communities (e.g. international, student) and social issues (alcohol and drug abuse)
World Food Nights:
Film nights may be accompanied by a themed cafe night with food and drinks of a particular nationaility/era/culture.
Opportunities will be available in administration support, general maintenance, marketing, working with children and young people, and intergenerational development work.
With the help of OTBs team of media officers, community groups can create a number of short films to be shown at the Ritz on subjects such as the restoration of the cinema, the built heritage of High Street, profiles of local people.
Use the renovated Ritz as a permanent exhibition space, in which artifacts and historic photographs can be displayed for visitors.
Furthermore 11 core community programmes will be developed to increase service users of the building, increase education and knowledge of heritage within Lincoln, create employment and offer a sustainable future to the Ritz project:
1. AFTERSCHOOL MEDIA WORKSHOPS
The afterschool media workshops will deliver a series of sessions that concentrate on filmmaking. The filmmaking workshops will cover most areas of Film Production utilising digital technology and multi-media. The workshops will be held at the Ritz and local schools will be invited to learn the filmmaking process such as Scripting, Storyboarding, Camera Operation, Editing and Publishing. The six-week program will be split into three sections with each section containing two, hour-long workshops.
Here is how the program will be structured:
Section 1 – Pre production.
• Week 1 – Narrative Storytelling and Creative Writing.
• Week 2 – Planning a Film Shoot: Actors, Props and Locations. Section 2 – Film Production.
• Week 3 – Shooting Your Film Part 1.
• Week 4 – Shooting Your Film Part 2. Section 3 – Post Production.
• Week 5 – Editing and Publishing.
• Week 6 – Showcase at The Ritz.
2. Two-Day Filmmaking Workshop
The Two-Day Film School Workshop will be an interactive course that condenses three years of film school theory and education into two days of essential and practical facts and information. The workshop will be delivered using a groundbreaking series of films and interviews that will be screened at The Ritz over two days. The films will contain interviews with industry
professionals who will describe their job role whilst providing an insiders knowledge on how to be successful within their field. By using examples of their work, the interviewees will also translate the technical jargon within their field into layman’s terms so both beginners and experienced filmmakers can learn something new from the two-day event. The films will provide a logical step-by-step guide to all aspects of production, from copyright law to casting agents, direction to distribution, cash sources to stunts and much more. All the films will be screened at The Ritz and activities between each film will provide networking opportunities for likeminded people to meet and share ideas.
3. Saturday Morning Kids Film Club
The Saturday Morning Kids Film Club will be an opportunity for young people to experience a diverse range of short films. Short films are a great way of exposing kids to different genres, cultures and filmmaking techniques. The film club will showcase documentaries, animations, experimental films, music videos and narrative films in a way that is exciting and new. Young people will be provided with a filmmaker’s journal in which they write and review each film. Each workshop will be an hour–long and will showcase short films in the first half of the workshop, whilst the second half will engage children in filmmaking activities that run over a series of Saturday Morning workshops.
4. HOLIDAY CLUBS
Off The Bench currently runs several very successful and profitable holiday clubs throughout Lincolnshire and we have a proven track record for producing quality sessions and positive results. It is planned that a new affordable holiday club will be set up from The Ritz, offering not only positive activities for young people but a themed performing arts and film related club. Currently our holiday clubs run at full capacity of 30 young people per day and they are charged out at £10 per day, per young person. We run holiday clubs for 60 days per year. We intend to do the same in the Ritz building and when at full capacity this will generate a further £18,000 per year.
5. YOUTH NIGHTS
Off The Bench’s core aim is ‘Empowering Young People Through Positive Activities’ with this in mind it is proposed for weekly youth nights to take place within the regenerated Ritz facility. These youth nights will provide young people with the opportunity to engage in a wide range of positive activities. The emphasis of these sessions will be on providing fun and leisure for young people of the community. Within the local area currently, there is a distinct lack of facilities for young people to be able to congregate and participate in activities. Thus these youth nights will provide structure and consistency as a session that will always take place and be open for young people to attend. Not only will the sessions help in facilitating the development of important personal skills, such as social
interaction and co-operation, but they will also be a diversionary opportunity so that young people do not become embroiled in more negative behaviours.
6. Ritz Film Society
The Ritz Film Society is a membership only club where people can join on a yearly membership to watch films that would not otherwise be shown in the City as they are either not on mainstream release or they are classic films that have an educational aim, introducing new audiences to different audiovisual works through an organised and prepared program of screenings. Editorial output will reinforce the work of the Ritz Film Society, as we will produce hand programmes, brochures, schedules, information sheets, and even essays, supporting the significance of our exhibitions. A common feature of our film society screening will be that they either begin with an introduction of the film to the audience and/or end with the promotion of a debate / disscusion about the film, where assistants, organizers, local University Media lecturers, film and media students and where possible the filmakers themselves, exchange their views.
7. Community Cafe
Off The Bench currently run a community café and advice centre in Abbey Ward, Lincoln - OTB Grounded. Using this model we intend to open a community café inside the restored cinema that will act as both a hub and convivial melting pot for the local people, bringing together young and old and people of all backgrounds and nationalities.
The unique point about this community café is that it will be handed over to the community to run, with the support of OTB, local residents will provide the staffing for this via the use of volunteers and the café will be run as not for profit social enterprise where 100% of the profits will go back into the community to provide heritage projects and community action projects throughout the lower high street of Lincoln, further enabling the regeneration of this once vibrant community. It is intended that the café will run themed nights and themed events to run in line with the films and productions that are shown within the Cinema & Theatre, this will include provided food and drinks from native countries in line with our world cinema nights, as well as period meals and drinks to run in line with the Ritz Film Society events.
8. MOTHER & BABY SCREENINGS
The Ritz Mother & Baby Screenings will be held weekly and will be exclusively for parents and guardians with new babies. They can watch current film releases with their little ones and sit back and enjoy the latest blockbusters - without
worrying about them making noise. The volume in these screenings will be slightly quieter and the lights will be raised more than usual, creating a more calming environment for mother and baby. All films will be certificate 12A or lower. Tickets will be priced at discounted rates with babies going for FREE!
9. School Provision
Historically, The Ritz, hosted schools showings of films to primary schools across Lincolnshire. As I child I attended 3 of these showings and every one was completely sold out, almost 2000 seats. We pro- pose to bring this provision back on a monthly basis, with 4 extra showing at Easter and 8 Extra Showings throughout December, this will be 24 showings within the first 12 months of operation. These will be charged out to the schools at only £2.00 per seat and we fully expect all seats to be sold out, generating an additional income £38,400 per year with a possible additional £38,400 from confectionary and drinks sales. It is also intended that smaller schools sessions can be facilitated on a regular basis where school groups can attend the filmmaking workshop, with a focus of ‘Their Community’ and then watch a showing of a film. These can be single sessions or a full term project, again this will be an additional source of revenue in the bid to make this project sustainable long term.
10. Further Education Links
Off The Bench currently works extensively with both Lincoln College and Lincoln University. After having regular discussions with both parties we have agreed there is a strong prospect of them using the main auditorium as a lecture hall for their media courses and performing arts courses. This will mean the building will be busy all hours of the day, generating income for the project through the Community Café.
Job Centre Plus – Another key partner of Off The Bench, currently we are working with JCP to provide eight week work placements for people who have been unemployed for a prolonged period, giving them essential skills and references to re-enter the job market. We will replicate this provision within The Ritz to provide even more opportunities. Renovating the building will provide work for local tradesmen. When the building is complete and operational 8 part time jobs will be created along with 3 full time jobs and 3 graduate internships.
11. VOLUNTEERING & INTERNSHIPS
Volunteering and University Internships are key performance indicators for OTB and we would not be as successful as we are without the support of a strong internship and volunteering programme. We have built on this by getting the community both young and old involved in volunteering in all aspects of this project and we now have over 100 volunteer signed up to the Ritz project, when we have finished the restoration we will continue to use volunteers in all aspects of the building operations from cleaning and maintenance to usherettes, support workers, administration and beyond.
Other Ways You Can Help
We know that some people just can’t contribute, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help, there are many other ways you can help us with the project:-
- you can get the word out and make some noise about our indigogo campaign.
- comment on here and share your Ritz memories.
- use the Indiegogo share tools!
- volunteer your time to help us get the building open, maybe you are a plumber, electrician, joiner, plasterer and have a few hours a week to spare to come and work on the project?
- or maybe you can volunteer when we are open as an usherette or projectionist?
- any help is welcome in any way so please do get in touch and offer your services and time.
More Info On The Project
For more details on the project and what we are trying to acheive, please have a look at some of the following news articles...
RITZ CINEMA ARTICLES & VIDEOS
Facebook: Off The Bench -
Ritz Revival/Film Club
The Ritz Cinema, past, present and future