A trip to the cinema has long been a treat for townsfolk. It used to be part and parcel for everyone who lived in North Tyneside, with more than a dozen local cinemas to choose from, Whitley Bay at one point had 7! But time took its toll and eventually Whitley Bay was the largest town in the UK without a cinema. That all changed when a merry band of local people got together to open Jam Jar Cinema. The place has changed a lot over the years: we have come a long way from our first screenings in pubs, soft plays and churches in 2011, to taking our first lease and building in 2013. Thanks to an army of amazing volunteers we have gone from strength to strength. In 2015 we installed top of the range equipment making us a truly digital cinema - this development was a game-changer. Now we are technically good as the multiplex, but with more heart.
In June 2017 we went full time and now open seven days a week. We have 15 passionate employees and are very proud to pay living wage, not minimum wage. The business has grown significantly over the last number of years, with annual visitors now peaking at 50,000. However, we've had our limitations. A major barrier to people coming to the venue is access. Our building was constructed in a time when little thought was given to ensuring all people could get in. We've done our best but there has been no ability to install a lift - until now.
While the corporate giants concentrate on their screens, seats and sound, we take these high standards as a given. Instead we prefer to focus on our wonderful staff, maintaining excellent customer service and ensuring complete accessibility for the future.
We're taking the lease on the upstairs of the adjacent building. It is all of the space above the old Spar/Coop/McColls. It comes with a downstairs lobby and with a bit of structural wizardry we can punch through the concrete and install a lift. We've worked really hard as a team to reinvest and have the lions share of the money to convert the building. We will be able to install two new screens so we can take a wider selection of films, closer to release and at times to suit you. We have finance in place for the technical equipment and some of the seating. We know by becoming a cinema as it should be, for all we would raise our overall attendance to over 75,000.
But we need your help, can you help us??
We are short on the money required to complete the project and we're hoping that the crowd funder community can pitch in to help us out.
We are Different - The experience we offer is a million miles away from the faceless corporate multiplex. We’re absolutely passionate about cinema, fiercely independent and yes, a little quirky.
We are Local - We strive to be at the social heart of our community, providing opportunities to discuss and debate film and create connections between people who might otherwise be isolated. We support local causes and communities - giving back wherever we can.
Affordable - We aim to keep our prices low, making sure our cinema is available everyone
Inclusive - We provide a warm welcome and friendly atmosphere to everyone, with a relaxed and inviting lounge bar and a cosy yet state-of-the-art cinema in which every audience member can feel valued and at home.
Diverse - We screen varied and adventurous programming that challenges perceptions and broaden horizons, providing our audience with access to world cinema, classics and the very best of new releases. As well as short films, documentaries, animations and live cultural events.
A trip to the pictures expands minds, horizons and gives goosebumps. It provokes an array of emotions, starts debates and opens conversation. There is a joy of experiencing within a crowd and the camaraderie of an audience. You laugh together, hold your breath together, live together.
There is nothing like that ‘ahhhh’ moment of sitting in a regular seat, with a favourite drink in hand and the feeling of calm beginning as the trailers start. People stop chattering and start to unwind, letting go of daily thoughts and beginning to get swept away in the magic of the movies. Sure, you could stay at home and watch a tiny screen - but why not become fully absorbed and totally transported in the cinema, with no dishes or laundry in the corner of your eye and no phones pinging - just pure uninterrupted, storytelling,
And when the credits start rolling, we start coming back to reality - realising it’s back to normal life now….. The experience can often linger in our minds as we walk down the street, turning the key to our door and slowly come back to real life realisation.
And all of this is available at the heart of Whitley Bay! The Jam Jar Cinema means no transport headaches, no tantrums about sugar that costs a house and a relaxed, cosy, inviting bar to unwind in. We offer a cosy hug rather than a corporate handshake. We have friendly faces to welcome you - not a soulless machine on the wall. Jam Jar Cinema staff are movie-fanatics - we eat, drink, think film. We can’t wait to see the latest flick and we love choosing the best of what’s to come for our community to enjoy.
- Make cinema as it should be and accessible for all
- Take audience development to the next level
- Increase engagement
- Reach new sectors eg: teenage and young 16-30yrs
- Reach new people in our community
- Continue to contribute to the local economy and community
- Correct our current inequality of access
- Facilitate everyone to have the means to go to the cinema, make time for themselves and engage with others