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UNW (Newcastle) Assist Local Cinema to Obtain Funding
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Big Potential funding spreading joy for Jam Jar Cinema

An independent community cinema in North Tyneside is celebrating after receiving a timely funding boost with help from UNW.

Jam Jar Cinema, which is situated in the heart of Whitley Bay town centre, has received the £65,000 grant through Big Potential Advanced.

Big Potential is a £10m fund aimed at eligible voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations (VCSEs) that want to improve their sustainability, capacity and scale, helping them deliver greater social impact to communities across England.

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Dan Ellis, Rachel Arkley and Paul Kaiser (l to r)

The cinema, founded in 2012 by Dan Ellis, takes its name from a 1930’s tradition that originated in North Tyneside where children brought jam jars to the cinema in exchange for discounted or free admission.

After receiving initial funding from North Tyneside Council and Start Up loans, Dan and the team converted a derelict job centre into a fully functional single screen venue with a licensed café and 50-seat theatre in September 2013.

Since then, Jam Jar has grown rapidly and now screens over 900 screenings to over 35,000 visitors every year. The funding means plans have now commenced expand their existing premises; giving them a greater capacity for access, ancillary space and potentially 2 additional screening rooms.

Chartered accountancy and business advisory firm UNW, who are the only organisation in the region to offer both Big Potential Breakthrough and Advanced routes, worked with Jam Jar to secure the funding.

Dan, speaking of his delight at the successful grant application, said: “Jam Jar was born out of a need to diversify Whitley Bay’s economy, and we’re thrilled with how well it’s been adopted by local people. There are a lot of great things happening in the town and it’s great to be part of that.”

“As well as screening the latest film releases and hosting many events, we also offer free community space to local groups and run successful education projects and training schemes. The corporate finance team at UNW, who helped us secure the funding, is incredibly passionate about the project we are undertaking, and we look forward to a long and successful collaboration with them.”

In addition to their refurbishment project, the funding will also enable Jam Jar to bring in industry specific professionals for brand creation and development, measuring social impact and development and to analyse market demand. This is in addition to creating a robust investment plan, which will be provided by UNW.

Jam Jar has also recently appointed Rachel Arkley as its new Head of Operations to support the growth of the venue. Dan added: “From an idea on a piece of paper 5 years ago, it’s incredible that Jam Jar is now in a position to bring in very skilled full-time staff members as we look to becoming a venue of regional significance.”

Paul Kaiser, Corporate Finance Partner at UNW, said: “With grant options becoming increasingly limited, UNW is placing particular focus on supporting VCSE’s to help them become investment ready. We are delighted to have helped Jam Jar with their Big Potential application, an organisation that has had a huge impact on the Whitley Bay community in a short space of time.”

It not only acts as a vital social outlet, but also plays a vital role in the personal development of its volunteers. The Big Potential Funding means that the opportunity to increase their locations and reach to deliver an even greater social impact in the coming years.”

UNW is a leading independent firm of chartered accountants and business advisors that delivers a wide range of business services to its clients. For more information on grant opportunities or investment funds, please visit:


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