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UNIC Conference at the European Parliament

On 22 February, UNIC held a conference at the European Parliament on new ways to engage with cinema-goers and the future of the Creative Europe MEDIA programme.

The International Union of Cinemas, the European trade body representing cinema operators and their national associations in Europe and further afield, organised a conference entitled “Investing in the Future of European Cinema Industry” last week at the European Parliament. The event was co-sponsored by MEPs Bogdan Wenta, Emma McClarkin, Pervenche Berès and Helga Trüpel, and invited key industry professionals and policy makers to share their views on cinema-going and the importance of the MEDIA programme for the European cinema industry.

Phil Clapp, president of UNIC and CEO of the UK Cinema Association, welcomed everyone and took the opportunity to highlight the strength of the European cinema industry in 2017, which “continues to thrive”. In relation to this, Clapp was keen to point out that “whilst such positive results partly result from a number of mainstream releases from our US studio partners, we should not underestimate the significant contribution made by a broad slate of European films in 2017.” The conference was then introduced by MEP Bodgan Wenta, MEP Helga Trüpel and the Director for Media Policy at DG-CONNECT Giuseppe Abbamonte, who all pointed out the cultural, social and economic importance of cinema in Europe.

The first panel, “The digital journey of a cinema-goer – Sector strategies and opportunities for growth” was moderated by Senior Media Executive Monica Chadha and involved panelistsCaroline Ménager - Les Cinémas Gaumont Pathé, Thomas Limmer - Cineplex Germany, Owen Geddes - Devicescape, Arturo Guillen - comScore and Richie Power - Showtime Analytics. The purpose was to understand how cinema operators can improve their means of engaging with their audience and maximise their marketing strategies. After all, “a consumer is more than a cinema-goer,” as highlighted by Owen Geddes. The discussion addressed the possibilities offered by innovative data analytics, the effects of ticketing strategies on the customer experience and audience habits in relation to the multitude of ways in which content can be consumed today.

The second panel, “The future of the MEDIA programme,” moderated by Managing Director of Communications at Burson-Marsteller, Dennis Abbott, focused on how MEDIA has provided crucial support for European film and cinemas and how it can evolve to keep up with a constantly changing industry. Panelists Jaime Tarrazón – UNIC Treasurer and Cinema Owner, Lucia Recalde – MEDIA Unit at the European Commission, Michal Hradický – EFADs and Slovak Audiovisual Fund and Kim Foss – Camera Film discussed the strengths of the Programme but also recognised its duty to improve through new concepts, such as the need to think about an audience-based approach, according to Lucia Recalde. Particular emphasis was placed on the MEDIA Programme as a powerful EU symbol that represents EU values and the need for an ambitious budget to support European cultural diversity, in particular for smaller Member States.

To supplement the discussions from both panels, MEPs Pervenche Berès and Emma McClarkin also provided short video interviews, in which they expressed their love for the big screen experience, its economic and social value and the crucial role of EU policy in ensuring the growth and sustainable success of the industry, particularly the “major role” to be played by the European Parliament according to MEP Berès.

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