Tower Hamlets mayor takes tour of newly reopened cinema

John Biggs gets temperature taken to get into Rich Mix 

John Biggs gets temperature taken to get into Rich Mix - Credit: Wyatt Dixon

A repeat performance of the big screen returning to the East End has been staged with the second reopening in 12 months of Bethnal Green’s famous Rich Mix cinema. 

But this time cinema-goers and arts fans have their temperatures taken at the door as a strict precaution within safety regulations for a public venue.    

Even Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs, who popped in to meet staff and tour round the arts complex, wasn't allowed in without having his temperature taken first — just to make sure he didn't have Covid.

Mayor arriving at screened-off Rich Mix box office to be met by chief executive Judith Kilvington

Mayor arriving at screened-off Rich Mix box office to be met by chief executive Judith Kilvington - Credit: Wyatt Dixon

He got the all-clear and was able to watch the big picture in the auditorium, the Oscar-winning Minari movie about a Korean family moving to a farm in America in search of a new life. 

“Arts organisations had a hard time not being able to reopen,” he said afterwards. “We’ve done all we can throughout the pandemic to support businesses.

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"I welcome the Rich Mix approach to public safely. It's a pleasure to be at their reopening.” 

The mayor's May 21 visit was a repeat performance of the reopening from this time last year after the first lockdown, when Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali toured round.

MP Rushanara Ali at the first, short-lived reopening in 2020, seen with chief executive Judith Kilvington.

MP Rushanara Ali at the first, short-lived reopening in 2020, seen with chief executive Judith Kilvington. - Credit: LBTH

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But the 2020 reopening didn't last long before another Covid wave hit and Rich Mix had to close down again, along with all other public entertainment venues. 

The council has since dished out £144m in government grants for places like Rich Mix and £103m in business rates relief to “bounce back” after the pandemic crisis. 

Rich Mix chief executive Judith Kilvington said: “We are reopening after a tumultuous year. Nothing replaces the feeling of a building buzzing with activity, but we're taking steps cautiously to get back to being that hub of culture once more.” 

The arts and culture centre in Bethnal Green Road has reopened with social distancing measures in the auditorium and throughout the four-storey building.

Chief executive Judith Kilvington shows the mayor round the newly 'spaced out' cinema

Chief executive Judith Kilvington shows the mayor around the newly opened cinema - Credit: Wyatt Dixon

The cinema is a “repurpose” of the live performance stage which stopped functioning when the Covid crisis began in March last year. The auditorium, bar and cafe now have “socially distance” seating.  

Rich Mix's cinema programme is putting on the UK Asian Film Festival 2021 of nine movies from May 27. 

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