Guest blogger Eve Jones discusses the pitfalls of rising ticket prices, and the importance of escaping to the cinema.
According to 2017 BFI statistics, the largest cinema-going audience is 15-24 year olds (29%) but this is also the age group with the lowest disposable income (22% lower than the UK average). As a 19 year old cinephile, I love keeping up with films but it is a luxury I cannot afford for a tenner per ticket at Vue. So when I discovered that Plymouth Arts Centre had started offering an under-25 cinema ticket for just £4, I was ecstatic. As well as doing our wallets a personal favour, Plymouth Arts Centre is encouraging a more inclusive and accessible cinema experience.
Increasing diversity on screen and in film production is one of the main challenges that the modern film industry faces – for movies to tell our truths, they must be truly representative. This diversity must also extend to audiences if we want to inspire a broad spectrum of next generation film-makers, but with ticket prices for cinemas skyrocketing by 48.25% in a decade (averages across the UK increased from £4.87 in 2006 to £7.17 in 2015) we are sidelining a massive demographic of young film fanatics. There are now more mediums to watch film than ever before, but nothing quite compares to the auditorium experience of congregating with a group of strangers for total cinematic immersion. This is why it’s essential for us to preserve this experience by making it inclusive and affordable for everyone.
One artist I was particularly excited to see on screen at Plymouth Arts Centre was Sean Baker, arguably, one of the most influential directors of the past few years. His work is progressive without being tokenistic, whether it’s his pastel peripheral of the American Dream in The Florida Project (2017) or his portrait of a transgender sexworker filmed entirely on an iPhone 5S in Tangerine (2015). Speaking to Little White Lies, Baker noted ‘if you’re a filmmaker in the 21st century, it’s hard not to be a social activist’. This, for me, is further demonstrative of the importance of providing young people with affordable cinema. By encouraging under-25s to see diverse and independent cinema, as Plymouth Arts Centre provides (and also now provides economically), we are encouraging them to be aware of our ever-changing social and political landscape.
However, most fundamentally, cinema is about escapism and fun. Everyone deserves to be able to just go out, forget their work, uni deadlines or that awkward thing they said to their tinder date and watch a great film. Now, if you’re under-25, the place to do that is Plymouth Arts Centre.