INDEPENDENT cinemas have received thousands of pounds to keep them afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Community-run venues, like virtually all leisure venues across the UK, have lost vital income as they remained shut or operated with limited capacity throughout most of 2020.

But several in the region have reason to celebrate after being among more than 200 to receive grants from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Among those to receive a share is the Station Cinema in Richmond which has been awarded more than £64,000 to plug lost income and meet the cost of Covid afety measures.

The Ritz at Thirsk received £6,400 and The Empire Cinema at Catterick Garrison was given £7,800 from the fund.

Richmondshire MP and Chancellor Rishi Sunak supported The Station's application in his role as constituency MP.

The three-screen cinema, housed within the former railway station, was closed in the spring and early summer 2020 and when re-opened, it operated with a reduced audience capacity.

It closed again on New Year’s Eve as North Yorkshire moved from Tier Two to Tier Three restrictions.

In his letter to the British Film Institute – which allocated the money on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport – Mr Sunak wrote of the importance of the cinema to its local community and the anchor role it plays in The Station complex as a whole.

He said: “As a Star Wars fan, I know there’s no better place to experience great films than in your local cinema and these grants will provide vital support for independent venues through this winter and beyond."

Daniel West, general manager of The Station Cinema, said: “It’s fantastic to receive this vital funding to see us through the current closure.

"We thank the British Film Institute which allocated the money on behalf of the Government and Rishi for his support for our bid.

“The outpouring of support from the local community and Richmondshire Council has been amazing in the current climate.

“The grant will go a long way to ensuring we continue to be a key cultural part of Richmond.

“2021 looks to be a fantastic year for film and we’ll be ready to welcome audiences back to be a part of it.”

Speaking when the Culture Recovery Fund was launched to help keep the industry afloat, Rish Sunak said: “The UK’s cinemas and film and TV production industry are a key part of our culture – they provide thousands of jobs and help to entertain the nation.

“So I’m delighted that we can support independent cinemas through the Cultural Recovery Fund, and help to get productions up and running again through the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, protecting vital jobs across the industry.”

Independent cinemas are not the only ones badly affected by the Covid pandemic.

In October, Cineworld - which has venues in Middlesbrough and Dalton Park, Seaham -announced it was temporarily closing its all 127 of its cinemas, putting 5,500 jobs at risk.