Keswick’s historic Alhambra cinema is to reopen after a four-month closure with audience capacity slashed to around 60 customers because of social distancing.
The independent 248-seat cinema has undergone an impressive transformation during lockdown, its freshly painted foyer now featuring new lighting thanks to the work of volunteer Jonathan Moore.
Like all UK cinemas, the Alhambra is allowed to reopen from Saturday 4th July after this week’s announcement by the Government but joint-owner Carol Rennie says its public screenings will resume on Friday 24th July.
“We are going to take a slightly cautious approach because there is still quite a lot of infection all over the UK and this will give us three more weeks to assess how it is going,” said Carol. “We would be ready to open on 4th July but we will be operating as a community service rather than a business as we will not be making money because of the reduced capacity,” she added.
The exact number of customers allowed in to screenings at the Alhambra will depend on how many are in family groups or individuals but Carol reckons capacity will be reduced to about 25 per cent as people have to be spaced apart by a minimum of one metre. She said: “We can survive and pay all the bills – just. It depends on how much (film) distributors charge.”
That’s why the unpaid work of Jonathan at the entrance to the cinema in St John’s Street in recent weeks is such a huge help. Jonathan moved to Braithwaite in March and like Carol had been volunteering at the village shop when he offered to help at the cinema, using paint left over from the refurbishment of its auditorium last year.
Jonathan, who is a DIY enthusiast, said: “I’m the luckiest person on the planet as I moved to the Lake District as lockdown started – and there’s no better place to spend it. The cinema and the Theatre by the Lake are two of the main reasons why we moved to Braithwaite. I wasn’t expecting to see my name up in lights outside the cInema! I’m just glad I could help out while I’ve got time on my hands.”