Cowley Road, Oxford • 01865 245288 •


#SaveTheUPP Crowdfunder Campaign – Message from Micaela Tuckwell

Posted: Mon 6 Jul

#SaveTheUPP Crowdfunder Campaign – Message from Micaela Tuckwell

A message from Micaela Tuckwell, General Manager of The Ultimate Picture Palace, regarding our Don't Let The Lights Go Out - #SaveTheUPP Crowdfunder campaign which launched on Friday 3 July 2020.

"I started writing this note late on Saturday night as it felt like what happened on Friday was an extraordinary moment in the history of the Ultimate Picture Palace, East Oxford, and the story of community support for the arts in our city. It may be forgotten in time but I wanted to capture what it has felt like to run a historic and much-loved arts venue during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to receive a vast outpouring of support and love for the cinema over a matter of hours from you, our treasured customers and friends.

I began Friday morning in somewhat gloomy spirits. After four months of the cinema being closed where each week I had watched anxiously as ongoing expenses drained out of the business, applying for grants, developing reopening plans, and speaking to nervous furloughed staff, the honest truth is that I was exhausted. The idea of having to run a 3-week fundraising campaign to raise £18,000 so that we didn’t run out of money before we could even open, seemed like having a mountain to climb.

Whilst I had an inkling that we would manage to raise the funds eventually (many of you had generously mentioned that you would consider donating in an audience survey), I was nervous about asking for donations at this point in time as so many of us have been struggling throughout this pandemic. Some of you have lost jobs, health and well-being, and of course, most tragically, loved-ones. For all of these reasons, I was nervous about the fundraiser. However, at the forefront of my mind was being able to save the jobs of the UPP’s outstanding and loyal staff, as well as the cinema that we all love for now and future generations.

Just before the launch at midday on Friday, I clearly remember saying to Tom (Marketing and Events Manager) that if we managed to get to £5,000 worth of donations by the end of the day we should be very pleased. We were really not prepared for what happened next.

A number of our staff and volunteers had gathered at the cinema yesterday to talk to supporters and passersby about our fundraiser. Every few minutes someone would shout out, “Look! We’ve got to £6,000! Look, it’s now £10,000!” Neighbours, staff from other local businesses, and UPP Members who had dropped by for a coffee all joined in our excitement as we watched the donations creeping up…

Over the next 90-minutes over 400 people had donated to our online Crowdfunder, and by 1.30pm we had reached our goal of £18,000! None of us could quite believe it but donations kept streaming in.

We then increased our goal to £34,000 so that we could open with a full 7-day programme from September as opposed to the 4-day a week programme that we had originally planned. We reached that target by 5pm and by that time my head was truly spinning.

Thank you, Oxford

The speed and the generosity of giving from the cinema-loving community of Oxford and beyond is something that will stay with me, the staff and volunteers of the UPP for a very long time. Also, I keep thinking about all of the stories that hundreds of you shared with us either online or in person about what the Ultimate Picture Palace means for you. There were first dates, memories of family outings, and seeing favourite films for the first time.

By giving so quickly, decisively, and generously (at this moment our total is over £50,000) I can now tell cinema staff with confidence that their jobs are safe for when we reopen in September, and that the future of the cinema looks bright. We will be able to invest in an overdue upgrade to our website and undertake essential maintenance to the building, carry on developing our plans for community-ownership next year, and of course, plan an exciting ‘Welcome Back’ programme for you to enjoy in September.

The message from this weekend’s Don’t Let The Lights Out fundraiser was loud and clear.

Oxford cares deeply about the survival of arts and cultural spaces in the city.

Oxford cares about the people who make arts happen - from filmmakers to projectionists, front of house staff to volunteer stewards.

Oxford cares about the remarkable stories and experiences that only cinemas, theatres, and music venues can offer us.

The Ultimate Picture Palace cinema will be back, stronger than ever, because of you. Thank you.

Without wanting to turn this into an Oscars speech…

…I do have a few special thanks to the local businesses below who donated their time and skills to help us put this fundraiser together. Please support them!

Tom Kirkby - - Tom shot and edited our fantastic campaign video that was at the top of our Crowdfunder page.

Nope Print Studios - - Working out of his East Oxford studio, artist Joe designed our gorgeous UPP merchandise and hand-printed the A3 posters.

Irregular Folks - - As a seasoned music marketing professional, as well as Oxford promoter of strange and wonderful gigs, Vez Hoper provided us with expert advice on branding and marketing.

Routes Coffee - - These guys kept us caffeinated throughout launch day with their pop up espresso bar. This was extremely important.

Vinyl Revolution - - Long-time friend of the cinema (and volunteer), VR kept us in stock with stickers and printing.

Bounce Design - - Without Bounce, UPP volunteers and staff would be a little underdressed. For quick, great quality t-shirt printing talk to Joe or Tom!

With love and many thanks to everyone who supported us, we look forward to seeing you at the cinema soon."

Micaela Tuckwell, General Manager, The Ultimate Picture Palace

« Return to the blog page