News Story

Just before the festive season, The Roses had to bid farewell to its cinema projector. It was one of the first digital projectors in the UK, so it’s fair to say that it held on longer than anyone could have predicted, but its final bow leaves the theatre facing a poignant crossroads.

The global cinema landscape, reshaped by the seismic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, has dealt a heavy blow to traditional theatres. Streaming services skyrocketed in popularity, while theatre curtains remained closed, resulting in a staggering 50% drop in cinema income for The Roses, plummeting from £153,000 in 2019 to just £77,000 in 2023.

Operating as a charitable entity dependent on the support of trusts, foundations, and kind-hearted individual donors, The Roses now grapples with the challenge of replacing the outdated projector and all the considerations that come with that task. In 2023, just keeping The Roses cinema experience alive cost £36,000 for film licenses and £50,000 for various venue-related costs, contributing to a £9,000 loss. Adding a new projector to the mix presents an additional financial burden of £40,000.

Beyond its challenges with cinema, The Roses Theatre stands as a beacon of success in other areas. Three in every four of the theatre’s live shows sell-out and its youth theatre is at full capacity within just one year of launch, working with more than 3,000 children in the last year alone. The Roses’ adult education and wellbeing programs are also at full capacity and thriving, including wellbeing choirs, art activities and social groups.

However, the cinematic niche, which once played a pivotal role in contributing £75,000 to the venue's core income, now faces uncertainty.

As a charitable institution with an annual fundraising target of £230,000, The Roses Theatre relies on its wonderful community for support. A lack of local authority or government funding, and the absence of the red-carpet celebrity appeal of larger theatres, intensifies the challenges posed by the struggling cinema industry. The struggle extends beyond monetary concerns to the inflexible cinema distribution model, refusing to evolve despite technological advancements.

With all of this in mind, The Roses has decided to take a momentary pause whilst considering how best to move forward. This decision is fuelled by a deep determination to preserve cinema at The Roses, particularly in a town like Tewkesbury, with its rich cinematic heritage dating back to the early 20th Century.

Over the next couple of months, The Roses commits to working closely with its community and staff to craft a fresh strategy for cinema programming. The goal is clear: to ensure that the community's voice resonates in every decision made, forging a path that aligns with both the theatre's sustainability and the desires of the theatre’s loyal customers.

Jess Brewster at The Roses Theatre said, "The next few months are crucial for the future of our cinema and we will be consulting with the local community to determine the best route forward. We will hold focus groups, launch a fundraising campaign for a new projector and figure out how we can deliver the cinema experience our audience wants in a way that is viable for a charitable organisation like The Roses. We are optimistic that cinema will return to The Roses and that it’ll be stronger than ever!”

Those interested in joining The Roses focus groups for the future of the cinema are invited to email