Business Model: Hexham Community Partnership

The trust acquired a local cinema and uses the income from it to carry out regeneration projects

The Forum Cinema
The Forum Cinema

Hexham Community Partnership was established in 2006 as a spin-off from the now-defunct Tynedale District Council, and from the start it was keen to develop commercial income streams.

"We did not want to go head to head with the private sector," says Tamsin Beevor, the partnership officer for Hexham. "We wanted to provide a resource for the community that profit-making businesses weren't offering.

"When a lease on the local cinema came up, we saw it would offer us a small profit and would also benefit the community just by existing."

Fortunately, she says, the district council had put money aside to acquire assets that benefited the community and offered to pay the £90,000 needed to buy the lease.

"We got it as a going concern in late 2006 and opened the Forum Cinema in March 2007," Beevor says. "We spent a lot of money on set-up costs. We had a small, focused board with lots of business expertise. But we also took a good decision to spend the extra money to get a good lawyer."

The community partnership was established as a company limited by guarantee. A separate company limited by shares, owned by the partnership, was set up to run the cinema.

"The advantage of having that separate, bog-standard company is that it's well understood by the business world," says Beevor. "All our suppliers understand it. We could also use that to attract capital if we needed to, and it would be easy to sell.

"Now the cinema generates a surplus of about £18,000 a year, which we spend on regeneration projects in the town."

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