A COMMUNITY cinema is entering a new era as its longstanding managers hand over to a new generation.
The Electric Picture House in Wotton-under-Edge has been run by a team of volunteers for the past 11 years.
At the helm has been Jeff and Janet Walshe, without whom the regeneration of the community asset seems unlikely.
Having poured their hearts and souls into the site for longer than they ever expected, they are now handing over to new managers Gareth Negus and Samantha Osborn this Saturday.
Chair of the management committee Jeff Walshe said: “When we reopened the cinema, it was always our intention to develop it to the point where it could be run as a commercial operation.
“Over the past 11 years, we have been lucky enough to have an extraordinarily dedicated team of volunteers who have worked to make the cinema an established success.
“Over the past year, we have come to realise that now is the time where the business needs full-time staff if it is to grow further and remain sustainable.”
The new duo have a background in cinema management and are relocating to Wotton to take up the reins.
Mr Negus previously spent six years as director of Curzon Cinema in Clevedon and has been working with the Wotton Cinema as film booker and marketing consultant throughout the past year.
He said he planned to build upon what had already been achieved at the cinema.
“After years of working with independent cinemas and arts venues, I’ve seen how important they are for their local audiences,” he explained. “ We don’t want to move away from the cinema’s community roots – we want to extend them, to offer more opportunities to see a wider range of films. “
Ms Osborn, meanwhile, brings experience as operations manager at Curzon and front of house manager at Bristol’s Watershed.
A new front of house team has been recruited and many current volunteers will be staying on to help build audiences by showing films more frequently, closer to release dates and over the full week.
A special handover takes place this Saturday, March 29 at the cinema from 10am.