This year has been the Film Society's 60th anniversary – we wanted to celebrate in as many ways as possible, so as the end of the year approaches let's take stock and see what we've achieved.
We had a number of aims – to thank our audiences for supporting us; to forge links with other organisations; to raise the Society's profile; to celebrate film; to show how much we could contribute to the city's cultural life. I know there are lies, damned lies and statistics, but the stats tell an interesting tale.
Since January we have shown 26 Society films, organised a Film Festival (30 days, 44 films and film related events), helped bring John Hurt and Jim Broadbent to the city for personal appearances, arranged social events and taken films into village communities.
We've welcomed more than 5,500 people through the doors and had our efforts recognised nationally.
But did we achieve our aims?
I think a number of things have been accomplished. More people seem aware of our existence; 20% of this season's membership is new, while walk-ins – people coming as guests – is on a par with last year, our second best year ever.
We receive enquiries about how to see the films on offer and increasing numbers of people from other countries, who now live and work in the city, are at our screenings.
It looks and feels as though we are reaching new audiences.
As we make a point of showing films from different parts of the world – 10 separate countries over the past year – which have had no exposure locally, we offer people genuine choice and an opportunity to see something different.
Where June's Festival was concerned, we also wanted to celebrate the diversity that film, old and new, has to offer.
We screened several films new to Lincoln, but it was also a privilege to arrange a sequence of great films from the past – the Hitchcock season, Lawrence of Arabia in a new print, a screening of Grease in the Cornhill (Lincoln's first outdoor screening). Several people – none with any links to the Society by the way – said those events alone made the Festival worthwhile.
Links with other organisations apart from Bishop Grosseteste University (our base) were established. The Drill Hall, the LPAC, Lincoln College and Lincoln BIG all worked with us, as did some of the communities near the city, and using their facilities, expertise, publicity and social media networks helped widen access to film.
We've now begun discussing collaborations for 2014 to further strengthen those links.
In spite of all this, I have an uneasy feeling we've barely scratched the surface in terms of raising the profile of film and the contribution it can make to Lincoln's cultural life. Recently I attended a conference about promoting Lincoln to the wider world as an attractive place for people to visit and stay.
Interestingly, it was the day after news broke that Hull had been awarded City of Culture status. While there was plenty of talk about the city and the county's attractions – the Wolds, the coast, the cathedral, and especially the castle and Magna Carta 2015 – and the importance of pulling these levers for attracting people to visit and stay, no-one seemed to have considered the implications of Hull's victory. This surprised me greatly. An enticing arts programme – dance, film, music and theatre – must be part of any offer made to visitors: after all, what do they do in the evening when everything closes?
There will be some arguing this city has more to offer than Hull, but Hull has recognised the importance of the arts and done something about it. I won't be surprised if their visitor numbers increase well before its year in the spotlight.
Lincoln does have much to offer in this area, though I've heard many people say it's difficult to locate.
No wonder, if the majority of attention is focused on our Crown Jewels. If the city wants to be known as a worthwhile destination, then it needs to shout about the other things that people can enjoy while they're here, and find ways to involve those organisations, like Film Society, that are making Lincoln a worthwhile place to come to. And next year? We want to help commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War. We are thinking of a short film festival in the summer. We're already talking about our next season and what we can do to support Magna Carta 2015.
What's On at The Venue:
The Muppets' Christmas Carol (U): Family Film Club, December 14, 2.30pm.
Le Week-end (15): December 14, 7.30pm, December 18, 2.30pm. Jim Broadbent stars in a bitter-sweet comedy set in Paris.
Gone with the Wind (PG): December 15, 2.30pm. A new print... a great experience.
The Selfish Giant (15): December 18, 7.30pm. A new film from acclaimed director Clio Barnard.