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Newmarket cinema plans on track after great response to mobile picturehouse and survey

Ninety-six per cent of responses to a questionnaire, which was accompanied by a mobile cinema on The Severals earlier this month, were in favour of a permanent cinema in Newmarket.

The objective of the survey was to collect views from 1,000 residents as this number offers a representative proportion of the population of Newmarket, which is around 21,000.

This number was surpassed before the end of February, with over 1,500 questionnaires completed and returned and overwhelming support shown.

The mobile cinema was stationed on The Severals in Newmarket
The mobile cinema was stationed on The Severals in Newmarket

Over the half-term week between February 9 and 19, when the mobile cinema was open, the average occupancy, or attendance rate, was 38 per cent.

This rate compares very favourably with a national average of 15-20 per cent for cinema occupancy.

This data provides strong evidence of the level of community engagement behind re-establishing a cinema in Newmarket following the closure of The Doric in 1964.

With this new data, the Newmarket Charitable Foundation plans to submit an Expression of Interest to the National Lottery Heritage Enterprise Fund to apply for a grant to support the restoration of the historic Grade II Listed Subscription Rooms on the High Street.

The Subscription Rooms were most recently home to The National Horse Racing Museum but have been unoccupied since the museum relocated to Palace Street in 2016.

Dr David Hall, director of the Newmarket Charitable Foundation, said: “We are thoroughly energised by the survey results. This is the first step in a plan that will take a number of years to complete, working closely in collaboration with the Jockey Club and a cinema operator, assuming that we are successful in our grant application. But this is a fabulous and positive start to the process.”

Reflecting on the 10-day exercise, Chris Peters, associate manager of The Moving Cinema, said: “We’re delighted with the turnout in Newmarket – it’s the busiest our unit has been for these kinds of screenings.

“We showed a range of film and event titles – all were well attended, with plenty of sold-out shows.

“The people of Newmarket clearly wanted to show their commitment to a permanent cinema.”