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Activities - 13/03/2015


Audience Development & Innovation Lab, Sofia 2015 - Building Audiences from the Ground Up - An introduction


Thirty six exhibitors from nineteen European countries and guests from the wider industry gather at G8 Cinema, as part of Sofia International Film Festival in Bulgaria for four intense days of reflections, practical workshops, discussions and inspirational case studies.

It’s fitting for us to find ourselves here amidst Sofia International Film Festival for a second edition; an important industry gathering and above all, a hugely popular festival for audiences here in Bulgaria with a great track record in engaging the new generation of film goers. One of the key themes will be building audiences from the ground up, essential if we are to remain vital spaces for our local communities, providing a space for the rich and diversified range of European and world cinema. We are clearly moving into an environment where audiences have more choice and expect more from their investment of time and money whether it be live event driven, experiential, participatory, on and offline. In amongst all the noise and choice, how can cinemas think smartly and playfully to respond to this shifting environment, building relevant brands, offers and communications strategies that are in tune with today’s audiences? These are both exciting and demanding times for us cinema exhibitors that are at the forefront of a live debate with local (and increasingly global) film audiences. Building a 21st-century approach to cinema exhibition means not being afraid to be adventurous and distinctive with our choices and to take risks and to innovate; where there’s no way, there’s a way… Get insights from exhibitors and festivals from a range of national contexts that are coming up with dynamic new approaches to audience development, from building new cinemas such as our home for the week, G8 Cinema to taking films out to audiences where there is a lack of cinemas in the Balkan regions to Le Melies breathing new life into a closed cinema in St Etienne in France. We will also once again join Europa Distribution for a shared half day session providing a collective forum on how exhibition and distribution practitioners can collaborate to create more effective audience driven strategies for getting films out from the ground up.

Whatever our situations, the next few days are a chance for us to step out of our day to day business to share good practice and re-energise our approaches. Whether that's through partnership working, participatory practice, innovation or good old-fashion imagination, how can we turn today’s challenges into opportunities to ensure that cinemas remain vital and sustainable spaces for audiences to experience and engage with a diverse range of films? 

Madeleine Probst


Follow our progress here and join in the conversation on twitter using #ECSIFF



List of Participants