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Annual Report 2015/16

WELCOME TO PHOENIX Located in the heart of Leicester's Cultural Quarter, Phoenix is the city’s centre for independent cinema, art and digital culture. A registered charity, we aim to bring inspirational film and art to all and are supported by funding from our major stakeholders − Leicester City Council, Arts Council England and De Montfort University − as well as from income generated through ticket sales, our Café Bar, business events and hires, and donations from customers and members. We work hard to ensure Phoenix is a place where everyone can feel welcome and inspired. Our diverse programme provides opportunities for all ages to explore, engage and create with film, art and digital technology, offering new ways of looking at the world around us and challenging us to think differently. A FEW WORDS FROM OUR CHIEF EXECUTIVE


Phoenix’s economic contribution to Leicester may not be evident to many of our visitors and customers, who primarily see us as great place to engage in world cinema and innovative arts.

Welcome to our third annual review and as you can see, it has been another busy and rewarding year at Phoenix. Participation across our rich and diverse cultural programme has risen for the seventh consecutive year, stretching our current facilities to their capacity at times.

As a high-profile centre that uniquely specialises in digital culture, Phoenix has an important role in the area’s digital economy − as a creative hub that showcases and produces work; an attractor of national funding; and supporter of initiatives to boost tourism, investment and the creative industries. At Phoenix we are very excited to be involved in the development of the new action plan for St. George’s Cultural Quarter − we are looking forward to playing our part and contributing to the further development of this area of Leicester, which will benefit all who visit, work in or live in the Cultural Quarter as well as the wider economy. Our new strategy identifies that the capacity of our venue will start to limit growth and our contribution to Leicester, so watch this space as we start to explore the options for expanding and upgrading our facilities.

As part of our new strategy, the Board is committed to exploring how best we can secure the expansion of the facilities to build on Phoenix’s success and create the world class film and arts centre Leicester deserves. We could not achieve our current activity, or our development plans, without the support and encouragement of our stakeholders, grant funders, customers and individual donors – thank you all. We appointed four new Trustees last year − all experienced leaders from the local business sector, including three from the creative industries. With their injection of new ideas and specialist expertise we are looking at significant developments to Phoenix’s capabilities. Finally, on behalf of the Board I'd like to pay tribute to John Rance and his team who work tirelessly to make Phoenix a welcoming and stimulating place, accessible to all.


Water Light Graffiti, Cube Gallery, May 2015 Photo: Pamela Raith Photography


The Gain Line by Ravi Deepres Cube Gallery, Oct − Nov 2015

INTO THE FUTURE Phoenix is firmly established as Leicester’s leading venue for world cinema, art and digital culture, offering a unique experience to our customers. In the seven years since relocating to our purpose built venue at Phoenix Square our audience has grown dramatically and the challenge now facing us is to find ways of meeting rising demand, while offering the richest possible programme.

Our new strategic plan seeks to address that challenge. Developed in consultation with stakeholders, staff and customers, our strategy focuses on the investment needed to sustain and improve the customer experience, reach more people and increase our economic and social contribution to the city, whilst recognising the continuing pressures on public funding. The context is one of growth and success, with increasing participation in our cultural programme and rising income from ticket sales, our Café Bar, educational activities and room hire. Ticket income is 177% higher than five years ago; Café Bar income is 218% higher; and income from room hire and education is 610% higher over the same period. At the same time, we have extended our charitable activities through outreach and partnership initiatives. With your support we aim to engage new diverse communities in our cinema and art programme; expand our developmental support of filmmakers and artists; and further our leadership role in digital culture and the local creative economy.

STRATEGY THEMES Our new strategy has four main themes: OUR IMPACT ON PEOPLE Engaging more people and more diverse communities, and enriching lives through film and creative media. OUR ARTISTIC AMBITION Celebrating diversity and ambition in film and digital art, producing an innovative and distinctive cultural programme that is relevant to Leicester. OUR WIDER CONTRIBUTION Stimulating and supporting economic and community development, furthering our leadership role in Leicester’s digital culture and inspiring creativity. OUR ORGANISATIONAL AIMS Ensuring Phoenix’s long term contribution through investment in talent, staff and venue; and strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with our stakeholders.

LEICESTER’S DIGITAL HEART Phoenix has been a registered charity for over 25 years, and our ethos throughout has been creative, cultural innovation and support for emerging artists, whilst being firmly anchored in the local community. Our independence gives us the ability to push creative boundaries and offer a programme that truly reflects the diversity of the city. Our distinctiveness stems from our unique and varied programme of international film, digital art and learning opportunities for all ages. Phoenix’s creative programme is curated by our own specialist team for a local audience, firmly positioning us at the heart of Leicester’s cultural offering and giving Phoenix immense relevance within the community we serve. We provide a ‘window on the world’ − increasingly valuable in these turbulent times − by offering diverse cultural perspectives and on-screen representations of peoples, places, narratives and themes, and we work with a wide range of artists and partner organisations to achieve this. Many of the films that we screen are not shown anywhere else locally, and include heritage film, Q&A sessions with directors, and work by Midlands-based filmmakers. In 2015/16 we screened 438 different films, with 12 film festivals and seasons held during the year. Our digital arts programme presents work from nationally and internationally distinguished artists, to emerging local talent; there were 8 major exhibitions, 6 art events and 3 new works commissioned in 2015/16. We have also developed some of the UK’s most inventive digital arts for young people and families, giving them the chance to experiment and create with new technologies. There are further opportunities throughout the year for filmmakers and artists to collaborate and engage audiences, and our partnership with De Montfort University has enriched our programme through research, special conferences and projects in cinema, digital arts and heritage, including Cultural Exchanges and the History of Cinema-going in Leicester.

PROGRAMME HIGHLIGHTS THE SHORT CINEMA Annual festival of short film, supported by Phoenix, showcasing work by local and international filmmakers. ‘Best in Festival 2015’ prize won by Nottingham-based director Jordan McGibney. BRITISH SILENT FILM FESTIVAL Four-day event, attracting an international audience. Films accompanied by the world’s leading silent film musicians, including Neil Brand, Stephen Horne and Laura Rossi. REEL INDIA Collaborative cross-cultural project with the Children’s Film Society, India, bringing independent Indian cinema to young and family audiences. Complemented by free screenings for schools and creative workshops with Leicester Mela. SPARK FESTIVAL Innovative four-day programme of creative activities and exhibitions for children and families, attended by over 2000 people. 35MM CLUB Monthly screenings from 35mm film, focusing on masterpieces of classic and contemporary cinema. ACCESS CINEMA Regular subtitled, audio-described and supportive environment screenings to suit people who may usually find it difficult to enjoy cinema.

The Short Cinema Film Festival Photo: Pamela Raith Photography


BUSINESS & COMMUNITY Phoenix is a vibrant hub for filmmakers, artists, creative businesses and community interest groups. Our membership and loyalty scheme − MyPhoenix − enables our audience to get more involved with our creative programme and charitable activities. Phoenix’s contribution to the regeneration of the Cultural Quarter is significant; the spending of increasing numbers of visitors − 187,000 in 2015/16 − generates revenue for local businesses and creates employment, and we are actively engaged in partnerships to stimulate the creative industries in the city. A cluster of filmmakers, artists and creative businesses has become established at Phoenix, creating jobs and economic output as well as opportunities for collaboration. We continue to support emerging artists and filmmakers, helping them to develop their skills and engage audiences through access to bursaries, workspace and opportunities to exhibit their work. Our Phoenix Community Cinema programme takes film to community venues across the city and rural Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, reaching over 14,000 people who may otherwise not have access to world cinema. We supported 367 events across 60 community venues, delivered by a team of 360 community organisers and volunteers. Phoenix celebrates Leicester’s multi-cultural diversity through our involvement in festivals and events − such as An Indian Summer, Black History Month and DMU Pride − that explore the heritage of communities who have made the city their home. In September 2015 we launched MyPhoenix, our new membership and loyalty scheme. Almost 2,000 people have joined MyPhoenix in its first year, growing the Phoenix community and supporting us in our charitable aims. We also launched the MyPhoenix Partner employee benefit scheme, which has been extended to a number of city employers. We were delighted to become an Everards Community Partner, which has supported our volunteer-led Phoenix community

garden project. This new relationship extends our efforts to ‘source local’, especially for our Café Bar. Our conferencing and hires business continues to grow and in 2015/16, over 60 different organisations chose to hire Phoenix for conferencing, workshops and training, including NHS, Leicestershire Police, Arriva, Clarks Shoes and the Royal College of Physicians. We also hosted the inaugural Leicester Business Festival summit, attended by 175 delegates.

OUR CHARITABLE AIMS FILM AND ART FOR ALL We want to make great film and art available to all, reaching out to more people through our Community Cinema programme, developing our Access Cinema programme for people with disabilities, and providing opportunities for those from disadvantaged backgrounds CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE We want to introduce more children to the wonderful worlds of film and art. Every year, we welcome thousands of children to educational events at Phoenix, and run workshops for families to get creative using the latest digital technology. DEVELOPING FUTURE TALENT We want to inspire and help more people to get creative with film and digital technology, by providing bursaries, workspace and training to help people develop and create innovative new work.


367 Community Cinema events, attended by 14,000 people Photo: Pamela Raith Photography


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FILM AND ART FOR ALL We are committed to making film and art open and accessible to everyone − with a particular focus on increasing social inclusion − and actively reach out to new audiences to inspire creativity and widen access to all that Phoenix has to offer.

Our regular Access Cinema programme shows films in a range of specialised environments to suit people who may usually find it difficult to enjoy cinema, with supportive environment screenings for people on the autistic and Asperger’s spectrum, as well as subtitled and audio-described screenings. Free events, made possible by our funders, are core to our offering for young people and families, to ensure the widest possible access to our creative programme and inspire the next generation. We run workshops throughout the year as part of our regular programme, and also for city-wide festivals like Spark. We cater for all ages through our education programme, which includes tailored learning provision for schools, colleges and universities, plus professional development opportunities for teachers. Support for local artists and filmmakers is provided through bursaries, commissions and access to facilities and expertise. In 2015/16, 64 new films and creative digital media works were produced as a result of Phoenix’s support. Our audience is growing in its diversity, attracted by our varied programme of world cinema, art and creative opportunities for families and young people in particular. Outreach activities − such as Community Cinema − broaden our engagement with diverse communities across the city and beyond. Involvement with local and national festivals and events adds to the depth and appeal of our programme. Highlights include DMU Pride; the Masterpieces of Polish Cinema season; Reel India, which brought independent Indian films to families; Cultural Exchanges; and the British Silent Film Festival, which attracted an international audience.

ACCESS FOR ALL ACCESS CINEMA 60 Access Cinema screenings, attended by over 800 people LEARNING Over 200 events for schools, colleges and universities 2,022 people engaged with our adult education programme FAMILIES AND YOUNG PEOPLE Almost 3,600 participants in our young people’s programme, including learning activities and The Spark Festival 22 free creative workshops, 7 short courses, and the annual Christmas family fun day EMERGING TALENT Bursaries awarded to 3 local artists Work by 50 filmmakers screened at The Short Cinema film festival Annual student film festival in partnership with De Montfort University, this year on the theme of dystopia COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT 367 Community Cinema events across Leicestershire, Rutland and Northamptonshire, reaching over 14,000 people More than 8,200 people attended community activities at Phoenix, including MyPhoenix members events

ENRICHING LIVES With independent and world cinema, stage shows and exhibitions via satellite, a Café Bar, digital art and creative learning all under one roof, we offer a distinctive cultural experience that enhances people’s wellbeing. But our impact also extends beyond the individual to the wider community, through our role in Leicester’s economic and social development. Our Community Cinema programme brings people of all ages together to share and enjoy film in areas with limited cultural services, reaching an audience of over 14,000. The Films to Make You Feel Good project targeted marginalised or socially isolated audiences; feedback indicates that participation was a positive and rewarding experience. We work with organisations such as Vista and Action Deafness to ensure our programme is accessible to all. Regular Access Cinema screenings enable people with differing access needs to watch film with family and friends in a comfortable, supportive environment. In 2015/16 we ran 60 Access Cinema screenings, attended by over 800 people. Each year Phoenix provides paid internships and volunteering opportunities − ranging from a few weeks to nine months − in cultural programming, marketing, and accounting, giving people valuable work experience, enhancing their CVs and helping them transition into employment at other organisations. We offered 46 such roles across Phoenix in 2015/16. Leicester’s creative community benefits from the many opportunities provided by Phoenix to interact, develop skills and share work. Creative practitioners at all levels come together to support and undertake collaborative projects, contributing directly to Leicester’s cultural, social and economic prosperity. A prime example is Leicester’s vibrant filmmaking community, whose growth is a direct result of Phoenix’s support for local filmmakers, through our partnership with Seven/Five Productions and as hosts of The Short Cinema film festival.

CASE STUDY To mark World Autism Awareness Day on 2 April we held a free autism-friendly screening of Toy Story. The auditorium was filled with families and children, clearly comfortable in their surroundings, moving around and expressing themselves freely throughout the film. Jude and his mother were attending their first screening in an autism-friendly environment and were very enthusiastic about the experience. When asked about his favourite part, Jude said, “I liked it that I didn’t have to be quiet all the time. I always like talking during the film, it’s a lot more fun.” His mum agreed. “We used to go to films at another cinema, but we always needed to sit by the exit in case Jude wanted to leave. The sound sometimes got too loud for him. One time we only got ten minutes into the film. But this [autism-friendly screening] was great − he’s had no problems.” Autism-friendly screenings are part of our regular Access Cinema programme − made possible by our funders and individual donations − and offer a supportive environment with reduced sound levels, partially raised lighting, no trailers and freedom to move around. When possible we provide a separate space to relax in. Audience feedback indicates that these screenings are also suited to people with certain learning differences.


THE PHOENIX TEAM Phoenix is run by a dedicated and passionate team who take immense pride in their work. Our board of Trustees, all of whom are volunteers, are leaders drawn from local business, education, arts, finance and legal practice organisations. Our management and creative teams work behind the scenes to develop our programme and steer us towards our goal of becoming a world class centre for digital art, while our front-of-house staff provide the excellent friendly and informed service that our customers appreciate.

RICHARD DAVIS Chief Finance Officer

ALAN TUCKETT Chair of Trustees



JAKE HARVEY Cinema Programme Manager ROS HILL Operations and Customer Services Manager ALEXZANDRA JACKSON Education Manager DINDY OUTEN Business Development Manager JOHN RANCE Chief Executive Officer



RICHARD SMITH Catering Manager


CHRIS TYRER Digital Arts Manager




SARAH VALLANCE Membership & Communications Manager PATRICK WELSH Marketing Manager

Phoenix is the trading name of the charity, which is called and registered as Leicester Arts Centre Ltd

FINANCIAL SUMMARY 2015/16 Phoenix is a registered charity. We invest 100% of our resources and earnings in our mission to enrich lives and celebrate diversity through film and art. Investment and support from our stakeholders – in particular our founding partners, Leicester City Council and De Montfort University (DMU) – has enabled us to become an established part of Leicester’s cultural life. Arts Council England (ACE) and the British Film Institute (BFI) are regular funders of our cultural programme; their support helps us commission and create new work, and reach out to more people. Many other organisations and individuals also support us, by sponsoring our programme, collaborating on events, or working with us to engage audiences. INCOME Total income of the charity and its trading subsidiary during the year amounted to £2,066,720 with corresponding expenditure of £1,954,782. Earned income from cinema, café, conferencing and education grew for the seventh consecutive year and the group produced an annual operating surplus of £111,938. The income from these activities was more than 73% of the total.

STAKEHOLDER SUPPORT A 5-year agreement was signed with DMU to base film studies teaching at Phoenix, which includes an annual film festival produced by the students as part of their course. Leicester City Council continued the grant support that is vital for the continuance of our cultural, educational and community activities for Leicester. The continuing grant support of ACE through its National Portfolio Programme was essential to the continuation and development of our arts programme. Phoenix also attracted important grants from the BFI, Film Hub Central East, and Lottery programmes that enabled us to reach more people and to produce a more diverse cultural programme. The mixture of local authority grants, audience contributions, and support from the BFI was essential to the continuation and development of Phoenix Community Cinema which operates across three counties and has started work in Leicester.

FUNDRAISING The surplus generated in the year improved the unrestricted reserve funds of the charity to £256,725, which is important at a time when pressures on public finances and cost increases present challenges to arts organisations, and is another important step in securing the future of Phoenix as we look towards investing in the upkeep of the venue as well as our staff and some new capabilities that Phoenix will need in future.

Cinema, Education and Festivals Community Cinema income

Other grants

Local Authority grant

Café Bar income

Arts Council England grant

Other operating income

BFI grants

Membership & donations

Phoenix Square, 4 Midland Street, Leicester LE1 1TG Box office 0116 242 2800 Enquiries 0116 242 2821 www.phoenix.org.uk Leicester Arts Centre Ltd Company Registration No. 2276987 Charity Registration No. 701078 Vat No. 485739687 Registered Office - 4 Midland Street, Leicester, LE1 1TG

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Phoenix Annual Report 2015/16  

Welcome to our third annual report. See inside for information about all our activities last year.

Phoenix Annual Report 2015/16  

Welcome to our third annual report. See inside for information about all our activities last year.