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February 16, 2021

Community streaming

It was an idea first conceived in New Zealand to provide film lovers with a means of supporting their favourite local cinema during lockdown. As an alternative to the streaming services of Netflix et al, the community cinema movement has bravely entered the marketplace with their own streaming offering. Aberfeldy’s community run Birks Cinema, with support from Scottish Government’s recovery funding for independent cinema, are set to launch the Birks Streaming Service – a professionally curated programme of films direct to your home. A cinematic first for Scotland. 

Melanie Bonn, The Daily Record

The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy has come up with a novel method of raising money while its doors have to remain closed to Perthshire filmlovers.

This week the Highland Perthshire community cinema launches the first ‘on film on demand’ streaming service in Scotland.

The Birks is only the second cinema in the UK to offer this unique service.

This year has seen an overwhelming level of support for The Birks as it fights to stay viable in the current uncertain environment. Aberfeldy residents want to ensure their first class film venue which employs 13 staff and 60 volunteers remains the centrepiece of the town.

Funding allowing this exciting development to take place has come from the community and in particular, one of the founders of the cinema, Charlotte Flower whose personal donation has allowed this project to come to fruition.

The streaming service is just one of the ways the team have diversified, bringing the magic of film into homes across the country while the movie house doors remain closed due to COVID restrictions.

“The programme is curated uniquely for The Birks audience, with our local community in mind and in due course, we will feature adventure and outdoor films, a focus on the environment, Scottish film and more,” explained Anna Brocklehurst, on of the Birks Cinema trustees.

She added: “The library of films available will expand over time and highlights from the programme include The Sheffield Adventure Film Festival and Knives Out.”

The service will continue to run once things get back to normal too, operating like a ‘second screen’ from home, and less anonymous than some of the streaming platforms out there.

The service also offers a chance to catch something that may have been missed at the cinema, classics and a selection for kids and young adults and more.

Initially, it will run as a pay-per-view service similar to renting a film with the plan to shift to subscriptions in the future.

Open to anyone and everyone, the service is easy to use, accessed via where anyone can join as a member of the Birks Streaming Service.