Interview: Together for Cinema has big plans for year ahead

Amy Wallington catches up with Ian Morrish to talk about what a successful year Together for Cinema has had and the plans for the year ahead.

AW: How has this year been? Have you achieved what you wanted to achieve?

IM: Towards the end of 2020, there was a concern as to whether or not Together for Cinema had a future. The world had changed and we weren’t engaging as we used to. It was however clear that the industry wanted Together for Cinema to continue, and there were various offers of support. As time went by more and more industry peers were asking if they could sponsor me to manage Together for Cinema full time. As a result of this I went full time on 1 March 2021 and since then we, as an industry united, have managed to secure a future for Together for Cinema. Be it revenue, products, media support etc, we now have a strong foundation to go forward.

Securing the future is one thing but it’s the end results that really matter and we have delivered on our promise of four installations this year. The third one finished last week and the fourth one is being installed later this week. The Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield was the first install of this year, carried out by Bespoke Home Cinemas and officially opened in August. The second, which opened in September, was at the Rose Road Association in Southampton, installed by Wessex AV (click here to read HiddenWires case study on this project). Last week we opened Reuben’s Retreat in Glossop, Derbyshire which was completed by Glo Audio Visual. Before Christmas we are squeezing a cinema room in at Linden Cottage in Uckfield which will be completed by the team at AWE Europe.

We also have six lined up for next year, five of which already have a credible installer allocated, and for four of them, I already have a comprehensive kit list drawn up, so we’re really ahead of the game for next year and it’s the first time we’ve been in this position. We even have talks in place for three more installs planned for 2023.

The big goal of course is to deliver our promise of 50 installs by 2026 with a normal installation value of a million pound. When we achieve this, there will be a celebratory party to thank everyone involved who helps make this happen. It will probably be in the summer of 2026 and it’s something special that all involved with Together for Cinema can look forward to.

AW: You said you’re ahead of the game for next year which has never happened before. Is this how you want to continue going forward?

IM: I think the more we can be ahead of the game, the better, and there’s lots of reasons for that. The more time we have to gather the equipment is always going to be a huge help. It gives us more time to talk to the companies who have donated in the past and see if they would be willing to help again. But, and importantly, it also gives us time to talk to more brands who maybe haven’t been involved before, to see I they want to help.

AW: Together for Cinema relies on donated equipment. How is that looking for 2022?

IM: We are looking good so far for next year, but we are always happy to talk to any companies who want to help. Please ask anyone to contact me if they feel they can help.

We are also going to start rolling out the recycling of second-hand and B-stock. I can’t say too much more about this at the moment, but it is really exciting as there are so many projects, especially in the commercial world, that rip equipment out which has barely been used. So instead of throwing them away, companies can donate them to Together for Cinema to be used in the children’s hospices and other deserving venues.

There is a real industry desire for this recycling to happen and my plan is to get through the next two or three months, which will see us secure the revenue to operate for 2022, and also secure (most of) the products for the next six installs. After ISE I’ll start looking into how we can administrate the recycling of products. It’s really going to work well but it’s just going to need a little more structuring.

AW: Sponsorship is also crucial to the future of Together for Cinema. Are you confident you can secure the budget for next year?

IM: We couldn’t do anything without the sponsorship and support of the industry. We had a budget this year of £54,000 and next year the budget has gone up to £72,000. There’s so much that we can do to further the difference that we make day to day in our community. We had 34 sponsors this year, and we will need about 45 in 2022. If we can achieve this, we should be able to secure the budget funding.

As an extra, there are some companies who are very kindly doing some fundraising for us too. Michelle and Martin Ellis at Pulse-Eight are doing a New Year sponsored leg wax for some of the guys in the office. Chris Pinder is running the Marathon des Sables in March and he’s determined to raise a significant amount for Together for Cinema, which would of course be incredible. We’re also talking to a few other people about different things they want to do to help raise money so it’s great that everyone is getting behind it.

AW: If you ever get extra money, where does that go?

IM: Any extra money will go to extras that we can buy for every install. Things like Apple TV or a Starscape ceiling make so much difference. Starscape have very kindly agreed to donate to one install a year but as the ‘twinkly ceiling’ effect makes such a difference to the children we will try to secure them for every install. Starscape have kindly agreed to help us with the price for any further products that we need. With most of the AV products being donated we don’t have to spend a huge amount of money to really up the end result.

I’m not dismissing any of the fabulous equipment that is donated, but you put a little bit of LED lighting in, install a Starscape ceiling, gift the Apple TV box, or even just hang some movie images on the wall, and the room can be transformed into something magical. So that’s what I’m hoping to do if we manage to get any extra money.

AW: How important is it to have the support of the industry, the steering committee, operational partners, etc?

IM: We couldn’t do it without them. We have so much support from the steering committee so a huge thanks to Wendy Griffiths, Melanie Malcolm, Jeff Hayward, Alex Emson, and Stuart Tickle who make up the steering committee. We also have operational partners who donate their time and services free of charge as well which we are so grateful for. Then we also have media partners who back us and help spread the word about Together for Cinema and what we want to achieve. And of course, the sponsors. There are so many brands getting behind us and it’s so wonderful. There’s so much support for Together for Cinema so I hope we can continue to make a difference for a long time yet.

Main image: The team behind the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield - grand opening

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