A CINEMA aiming to become community owned has raised more than £85,000 and counting in a matter of days.

The Ultimate Picture Palace – Oxford’s oldest and only independent cinema – announced it was up for sale last month, and on Friday, launched a share offer.

Coined Lights, Community Action, the share offer will raise money to purchase the business for the community, ensuring it remains open and stays independent.

READ AGAIN: Oxford’s oldest cinema is up for sale – and you can buy shares

Following the death of the cinema’s last owner, Becky Hallsmith, in 2018, the cinema now has to be sold, and it was Ms Hallsmith’s wish for the iconic venue to become community owned.

The Jeune Street venue is seeking to raise £312,575 in community shares.

The bank holiday weekend saw a variety of events, including screenings and Q&As at the cinema.

Oxford Mail: A share offer to make The Ultimate Picture Palace community owned has already raised more than £85,000. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture PalaceA share offer to make The Ultimate Picture Palace community owned has already raised more than £85,000. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture Palace

Micaela Tuckwell, director of the cinema, is overjoyed with the success of the scheme so far.

She told the Oxford Mail: “It really is remarkable, the breakdown in the numbers is made up of so many little donations – and that’s what makes me so happy, that this is grassroots.

“On Friday, we had the open event with staff able to answer questions.

“There was a real sense of community, we had sell-out performances every night, and it was so lovely for me and the staff to see that.

“There was real concern though with people asking what will happen if we don’t raise the money.

“I was able to explain and say the cinema would go on the open market, and there’d be the possibility of the cinema not being a community owned venture, or whether it would even be a cinema anymore.”

READ AGAIN: Cinema inviting film fans to become part of its history this weekend

Oxford Mail: A share offer to make The Ultimate Picture Palace community owned has already raised more than £85,000. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture PalaceA share offer to make The Ultimate Picture Palace community owned has already raised more than £85,000. Picture provided by The Ultimate Picture Palace

Ms Tuckwell said a particular highlight of the weekend was The Guardian film critic, Peter Bradshaw, giving a talk on the role of the film industry in society.

She said: “One of the standout moments for me was Peter Bradshaw introducing The Terminator – he spoke very emotionally and honestly about going to the cinema.

“He said during his days as a student, he would go to the cinema to see what’s on, rather than to see a particular film, and he said it was a great way to discover new films.”

The share offer campaign continues this week with membership screening days on Thursday, and then May 11.

“It’s about continuing the campaign and making sure everyone in Oxford knows,” said Ms Tuckwell.

“We’ve had investment from America and Australia, and that’s the beauty of Oxford. People fall in love with the place and its institutions.”

Community shares can be purchased via Ethex, with shares costing £1 each.

Contact Ethex on 01865 403304 or via help@ethex.org.uk, for assistance on registering or purchasing shares.

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