Friends group tell members that event not going ahead
Romeo and Juliet in Gunnersbury Park 2018. Picture: Secret Cinema
Plans for a series of cinema events in Gunnersbury Park have been abandoned according to the park’s Friends’ group.
Secret Cinema had submitted licensing and planning applications for a scaled down version of an immersive event they had received permission for earlier in the year. Rather than a daily attendance of 5,000 they were only going to be selling 1,000 tickets for each event and a variety of films were to be shown rather than a single one for the entire duration.
However, the Friends of Gunnersbury Park have told their members that the event is no longer taking place resulting in a loss of potential revenue for the park.
If permission had been granted it would have been one of the first mass attendance events to be held in the country after lockdown.
Secret Cinema ran an immersive event in the park in 2018 with over 60,000 people attending 15 showings of Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet. The say their events are aimed at ‘a loyal, hyper-engaged audience of culture seekers predominantly from the ABC1 demographic.’
The building up of the event structures was scheduled to take place between 10 July and 14 July with showings from 15 July until 30 August. The structures would then have been removed by 3 September. The shows would have run for one extra day per week compared to the original application and there would have been additional matinee shows on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
In a covering letter the a Hounslow Borough planner Secret Cinema stated that they have been working with the Gunnersbury Park events team, the council’s Safety Advisory Group and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to design an event that could take place under current guidance.
They recognised in their application that current legislation would prevent such mass gathering events as this but they were confident that these rules would be relaxed by 15 July. They acknowledged that if no such relaxation took place then the events would not proceed.
Unlike the previous event, attendees would not have been encouraged to take public transport and on site car parking was to be provided. At present the car park at the site is closed to visitors.
In their application they state, “ Gunnersbury Park provides an excellent location for this series of events – close enough to transport links and road network links but far enough away for us not to suffer from the associated noise from busy roads, and to minimise the disturbance to our nearest residential and business neighbours.”
In a statement made before the reported cancellation Gunnersbury Park CIC said, ""We are very excited about the possibility of hosting this season at short notice as not only would this help our financial situation but we would be able to bring a safe, cultural offering to our community, at a time when there are very few opportunities for families to enjoy entertainment together outside the house. Secret Cinema have applied to Hounslow Council for planning and licensing approvals to hold the shows.”
There had been a mixed reaction from local residents with some saying that previous Secret Cinema events had passed off without any problems while other expressed concerns about health issues, noise, traffic and anti-social behaviour. There were objections made on the basis that the arrangements for consulting with residents were inadequate particularly during lockdown.
We have asked Gunnersbury Park CIC and Secret Cinema for comment.