From the local to the international: Broadway Cinema, Nottingham
How the Broadway Cinema has gone from strength to strength by starting from home.
One of my first notes on arriving at the Broadway Cinema reads: ‘LOCAL profile very important: Broadway at the heart of local micro-ecology‘. And it seems to me that this is the heart of the Broadway’s success. By having a clear understanding of the profile of their local audience, the cinema has built a loyal following whose word of mouth now extends, thanks to the national and international reach of social media, way beyond the Nottingham base of the cinema. In fact, that word of mouth was evident in a brief chat with a young man hanging out in the cinema foyer who asked us why we were there. ‘Ah, the Broadway, it’s the best. It’s a really great cinema. You won’t find anything like it, even in London’, he said. I asked him if he worked there. ‘No, just a fan’, he replied. And now here I am blogging about it, and there you are reading about it, and… voila – his voice has reached, well, wherever you are!
So, how have the Broadway managed to generate such a loyal fan-base? Well, the entire building supports local fare: from the cards made by local artists on sale in the foyer, to the cafe-bar’s commitment to locally sourced produce, and exhibition of local video-artists’ work in the cafe space. This kind of relationship with the community must produce solidarity from an even wider audience than just film lovers. In fact, Steve and Andy admit that the demographic of the bar is totally different to that of the cinema, and that most of its users are not members of Broadway or regular cinema-goers. But they have a commitment to the Broadway and that has an important ripple effect: an effect which has seen the entire locality around the Broadway develop in recent years, responding to the growing numbers of people visiting the area because of the cinema.
Of course, the programming has a key part to play in the Broadway’s success! But this too is strongly and directly influenced by the cinema audience, with films often brought back ‘by popular demand’ because the audience feels comfortable enough to request the films that they want to see directly. Again, this feedback is enabled and encouraged by the Broadway’s embracing of social media, with comments coming from Twitter and Facebook as well as in person or via email as in earlier years.
The Broadway is also a member of another regionally specific project: the PBQ consortium which aims to promote specialised cinema to audiences and venues in the East Midlands. Once again, by working regionally, the Broadway places itself in a network which automatically has a wider collective reach: rooted in location but acting as a positive example nationwide.
Add to this their important educational work, their position as a celebrated CAV, their celebrated Screen Lit festival, and you can see why the Broadway has such an impact both locally and nationwide.