In its stated aim of “creating cinemas not supermarkets,” the Small Cinema project
voiced its alterity to the recent redevelopment of Liverpool’s city center and those
of other former industrial cities throughout the Midlands and the north of the UK.
These regeneration projects addressed the problem of a shrinking manufacturing base
by replacing them with service industries, a move which has entailed the privatization
of vast tracts of public space. Conversely, the building, functioning, and general
praxis of the Small Cinema project suggests a mode of practice that more accurately
fits within the paradigm of a collaborative commons than a capitalist marketplace.
The project’s exemption from market criteria grants it the freedom to pursue public
over private goods, thereby constituting a point of resistance to the ongoing neoliberalization
of the city and changes to government policy that make it increasingly difficult for
non-profit projects to exist.Historically speaking, cinemas have been accessible to the working class in a way
that other artistic media have not. However, while the history of film as a tool for
political subversion is well documented, less attention has been paid to the physical
construction of independent cinematic space, its programming/running, and its potential as a node of resistance to neoliberal colonization.
This paper uses the case study of the Small Cinema project in Liverpool as a means
by which to understand how cinematic spaces can counteract the effects of policies
that continue to have such a detrimental impact on the arts and education, as well
as social health and well-being.