CJ Interviews: Grainne Peat, MD Event Cinema Association (ECA)

By Helen Budge | January 14, 2019 1:54 am PST
ECA Slate Day 2019

July 2018 saw the appointment of new Event Cinema Association Managing Director, Grainne Peat. Having officially taken up the role in October and with the rapidly approaching ECA Slate and Insight Day 2019, Grainne Peat talks to Celluloid Junkie about her future vision for the ECA, its new direction and what is has to offer its members.

Celluloid Junkie: Since taking over the Managing Director role of the ECA in 2018, how has the transition period been for you?

Grainne Peat: The transition period has certainly been a busy one. Melissa stepped down in March 2018, so there was a great deal to address when I started back in October. Melissa founded an Association that attracted a broad membership, where all were passionate about driving forward Event Cinema content. She brought together and harnessed a credible range of members that have established Event Cinema (Alternative Content) as a significant part of programming and the Global Box Office.

CJ: You’re still fulfilling some of your UKCA responsibilities. How will you split your time between the two roles?

Grainne Peat: So it’s no state secret that I have continued and will continue, for the short-term, on a number of specific projects for the UK Cinema Association (UKCA). Balancing workload I feel is an area most of us struggle with. But I have a defined remit, with an agreed number of hours with the UKCA, none of which conflict with the work of the ECA. I have a great relationship with the UKCA team and I also feel that maintaining the relationship is of greater benefit to all.

CJ: What is your future focus for the direction of the ECA?

Grainne Peat: Ensuring that the Association was still abreast of the key priorities for its range of members was a key focus in my first few months. I spent a great deal of time meeting with colleagues from across the industry to gain their perspectives on what the Association was doing well, not doing at all and more importantly what it could be doing. This helped me form my future strategy and vision for the Association, an offering that I believe is now one with a clear focus that requires the input of its members and will ultimately benefit them all.

The new member brochure was launched in December of last year and has been well received. It has certainly been a great tool for reinvigorating membership and it offered a platform for me to engage with the broader industry on the (growing) importance and potential of Event Cinema. (Link to member brochure)

CJ: Can you talk us through the new ECA Membership fees?

Grainne Peat: The Board and I felt it was hugely important to have a member fee that was affordable and provided value. Cost was not to be a barrier to prevent involvement, but ultimately the fees are essential to running the Association. It was agreed to have a flat fee (£500) for any company, with a reduced fee (£200) for individuals and smaller cinema operators (those with ten sites or less). Membership also offers two tickets per member to attend ECA events.

CJ: The Slate and Insight Day 2019 is coming up this Thursday 17th January. What’s in store for those attending?

Grainne Peat: The upcoming Slate and Insight day is effectively our re-launch event. An opportunity to showcase the new direction of the Association and celebrate the successes of 2018. 2018 has been the biggest year to date for Event Cinema content but more importantly, the range of content that is now enticing new audiences in to cinemas is hugely exciting – and more will be presented at our event next week.

The Slate and Insight Day has a really exciting line up of content providers and data insight studies all ready to demonstrate the potential that Event Cinema can offer to cinemas. The collation and sharing of data around Event Cinema is one that has been overlooked. But what we will show next week is just how well it is performing and we’ll be providing some valuable insight into how we (content providers, vendors and exhibitors) can use that to better profile and market Event Cinema to the varying audiences that go to watch the content.

Tickets are still available for the ECA Slate and Insight Day. [For the full programme and to purchase tickets, please click here.] Tickets are £50 or free to current ECA members.

CJ: What are your plans for the Annual ECA Conference 2019?

Grainne Peat: Following the Slate Day, the Association is working on some exciting plans for its Annual Conference.

One of the key concerns that arose from conversations I had was a sense that it was far too UK-centric, despite it being a Global Association. Keen to address that and dispel concerns, the ECA is looking to hold its Annual Conference in Brussels in September 2019. The date is still to be confirmed as we are keen to ensure it doesn’t conflict with any other industry events, but we hope it will send a clear message that the Association wants to attract and draw in best practice and share experience, trends and constraints from all professionals who support Event Cinema.

Key topics for discussion are already emerging around marketing, increasing F&B spend, ticketing, gaming and the delivery of content. We’re starting to identify some interesting case studies and themes to track across 2019 that we can present back on at the conference. More information will follow in due course. But all suggestions for topics of discussion, or indeed to support, are greatly welcomed.

CJ: What is the outlook for the Event Cinema market in 2019?

Grainne Peat: As I noted above, 2018 has been an incredibly successful and interesting year for Event Cinema. One that we can certainly take a lot of learnings from to really help grow the potential that Event Cinema has.BO figure for 2018 in UK and Ireland finished at GBP £41.5 million, which is up 19% from 2017.

I’ll be honest in saying that the success of BTS [Korean boy band whose docu-film broke global records in November 2018] and continued success of André Rieu, are ones that have amazed me. Finding new ways to bring in and entertain audiences is hugely exciting and through conversations I’m having there is so much more that could be done. Creating a platform and network to share this is something I’m really looking forward to establishing.

CJ: On a personal level, what are you enjoying about the job?

Grainne Peat: I think it’s fair to say I’m ambitious, and if you’ve read the member brochure, there is a lot there to achieve, but I think it’s all within reach and provides necessary value. Driving new membership is a key focus for the coming months so that we are able to start delivering on these strands of work. I’m looking forward to helping members celebrate the successes of Event Cinema, share best practice, but ultimately help drive more people to see cinemas as a viable and enjoyable place to consume a wide range of content.

CJ: Thank you for talking to us and see you at the ECA Slate Day.

Helen Budge