Cinema St Andrews: Fostering Local Film Heritage

Submitting Institution

University of St Andrews

Unit of Assessment

Music, Drama, Dance and Performing Arts

Summary Impact Type


Research Subject Area(s)

Studies In Creative Arts and Writing: Film, Television and Digital Media
Language, Communication and Culture: Cultural Studies, Literary Studies

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Summary of the impact

Cinema St Andrews examines and preserves the cinematic heritage of St Andrews from the medium's origins to the present day. Our historical research has supported film culture in St Andrews to the benefit of local residents, pupils and tourists in three interrelated ways: 1. by contributing to the cultural heritage of the town; 2. by influencing secondary education and its curriculum; 3. by developing film audiences in partnership with local exhibition sites. Positioning the project's scholarly research within the town's heritage industry, Cinema St Andrews has fostered and sustained a thriving community-based film culture, a major component of impact within our discipline.

Underpinning research

Cinema St Andrews is grounded in Prof David Martin-Jones's research on the cinematic representation of Scotland and its influence on heritage tourism, exemplified by Scotland: Global Cinema (2010, ref. 1). Martin-Jones was a Senior Lecturer in the department from 2006-2013, and his focus on the global value of film as cultural capital—which is a vital and growing area of research in Cinema and Cultural Studies—provides the critical framework for Cinema St Andrews.

Methodologically the project draws on the research of Dr Tom Rice and Dr Joshua Yumibe, who, since joining the department in 2010 as lecturers, have been innovating archival digital humanities projects in film studies. Rice's research examines the global circulation of local film images — historically and through contemporary digital means — and utilises detailed local and national histories as a means of studying global history (ref. 2). Yumibe is concerned with how digital access affects the archival circulation of film culture and capital on a global scale (ref. 3).

Since 2011, Cinema St Andrews has taken shape within a general research paradigm widely known as local film studies, which has emerged in recent years as a major research focus in the discipline. Leading journals and academic presses now frequently publish studies that detail the role of cinema in mediating local cultural and social life in relation to national and global concerns. Cinema St Andrews advances this form of research by detailing the role of film culture as a form of heritage, documenting and interpreting the significance of film in local history and its key role in developing a vivid, internationally recognized image of the town.

Based on this work, Cinema St Andrews has established a new open access website (est. 2011, ref. 4) that makes accessible and promotes the project's research into local cultural history as a pathway to impact. The research focuses on, for example, the cultural impact of film productions within the town, such as the iconic beach sequence of Chariots of Fire (1981). Our research also explores the historical importance of film in St Andrews. We discovered, for example, that the earliest film exhibition in the town — the appearance of Edison's Kinetophone in August 1895 in a University fundraiser — constituted a seminal moment in British history as it marked the first appearance of sound film in the UK. By preserving and presenting this historical material now, Cinema St Andrews calls attention to the historical, cultural, and economic value of film within St Andrews, creating impact on cultural life in order to ensure that film culture will continue to flourish. The project team has discussed its findings in the local and national press and is developing additional academic articles about this research for the next REF cycle.

Across this work, which has all been carried out while in residence at St Andrews, Martin-Jones, Rice, and Yumibe investigate the integral role of local archival material for heritage industries. They have applied these collective findings in order to deepen the underpinning research into film as cultural capital, while simultaneously developing its practical applications for a local community.

References to the research

1. Martin-Jones, David. Scotland: Global Cinema—Genres, Modes, and Identities. University of Edinburgh Press, 2009. Available from the University library.


This ground-breaking book was widely and positively reviewed by Visual Culture in Britain 11:2 (2010); Transnational Cinemas 1:2 (2010); Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 31:2 (2011); Screening the Past 32 (2011); Media Education Journal 47 (2010); International Journal of Scottish Theatre and Screen 4: 1 (2011); Film-Philosophy 15: 2 (2011); and Journal of British Cinema and Television 9: 4 (2012).

2. Rice, Tom. `From the Inside: The Colonial Film Unit and the Beginning of the End'. In Film and the End of Empire, eds. Lee Grieveson and Colin MacCabe, 135-154. London: BFI, 2011. Available from the University library.

The book was highly recommended at the Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards, 2012.

3. Yumibe, Joshua and Alicia Fletcher. `From Nitrate to Digital Archive: The Davide Turconi Project'. The Moving Image 13.1, Special Issue: Histories of Moving Image Archives (Spring 2013): 1-32. DOI: 10.5749/movingimage.13.1.0001.


The Moving Image is the top, peer-reviewed archival journal in the field, and is administered through the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

4. Rice, Tom, and Joshua Yumibe. Cinema St Andrews (http://, 2011.

Begun in 2011, the website comprises research from the project, archival holdings, information for local residents and tourists, and news listings of cinema events in town. The quality of the project is indicated by its partnership with internationally renowned research institutions, such as the British Film Institute and the Media History Digital Library. The site is one of the project's pathways to impact, and as web data statistics indicate (see 5.6), it has brought wide and increasing international exposure to the project (785 web visits in autumn 2011 when established in September; 7,319 visits in 2012; and over 15,000 projected in 2013, with 11,798 visits by August).

Details of the impact

Cinema St Andrews examines and foregrounds film heritage as an integral component of local culture and tourism, which is a fundamental aspect of impact within our discipline. Despite the vital role of moving images in the local and international perception of St Andrews, its significance for the town and its heritage industry has received little attention. Through its underpinning research and outreach activities, the project has addressed this oversight in three particular ways. In terms of impact, it has strategically promoted the value of film locally within the town by: 1. contributing to the cultural heritage of St Andrews and its international tourist industry, 2. influencing secondary education pedagogy, and 3. developing film audiences through partnerships with local venues.

Cultural Heritage

St Andrews (population of 18,000) has both a sizeable university community (approximately 9,000), and a thriving international tourist industry, attracting nearly 200,000 visitors annually. Based in Martin-Jones's scholarship on the cultural and economic value of cinema within contemporary Scotland (as described in section 2), the project has since 2011 re-evaluated and promoted cinema's role in the local tourist and educational centres.

To carry this out, the project has organised regular, ongoing events for multiple constituencies. These include a two-week exhibition based on the project's research, held at the St Andrews Preservation Trust Museum in April 2012. As noted in the letter from the Chairman of St Andrews Preservation Trust (doc. 5.1), `the museum enjoyed a sizeable increase in attendance with 835 visitors, which brought in £425', and the exhibition `brought new materials into the museum's permanent collection and foregrounded the importance of the museum's often overlooked cinematic holdings . . . this exciting collaborative project is proving valuable for the museum's outreach to the St Andrews community'.

The project mounted a photographic exhibition in October 2012 at the Old Course Hotel, as part of an ongoing partnership with the annual Alfred Dunhill international golf tournament. The exhibition targeted the town's tourist industry, by showcasing rarely seen images of renowned film stars on the golf courses of St Andrews. As the Dunhill's supporting letter notes (doc. 5.2), along with local and tourist visitors, 168 amateur and more than 40 professional golfers visited the exhibition and, through this, `learned of the rich history of celebrity culture in St Andrews; a culture that we continue to nurture today to the cultural and economic benefit of the town'. Based on this success, the Dunhill is expanding its collaboration with the project to promote, through Getty Images, its rich photographic collection of film stars on the golf courses of St Andrews.

As a further means of presenting and preserving the cinematic heritage of the town, the project has established a new and growing online archive in 2011 (ref. 3.4, 5.6) that curates and contextualises digitised holdings in partnership with, amongst others, St Andrews Museum (2011), the British Film Institute (2012) and the Media History Digital Library (2013). The online archive includes materials such as photographs, architectural plans, local interviews, and newspaper clippings, all available open access, as noted in section 2. As the editor of local magazine St Andrews in Focus explains, the project's outreach activities, and in particular its online archive of local history, has done `a great service in preserving and promoting the town's film heritage at a time when St Andrews and Scotland's creative industries are under increasing threat' (doc. 5.3). Based upon web traffic analysis (as detailed in 3.4 and 5.6), visits to the website have grown significantly since the site's launch, from 270 unique visitors in the last quarter of 2011, to a projected 10,000 visitors in 2013, based on 8,000 unique visitors in the first eight months of the year. Surges of web traffic have directly coincided both with the project's locally staged events and with international events connected to the project's research (the project's Chariots of Fire research was the most read material on the website during the 2012 Olympics).

Secondary Education Pedagogy

The project's outreach has helped shape local educational programmes. Since 2011, it has partnered with St Leonards secondary school in St Andrews to develop teaching programmes that deploy the underpinning research. The trial programme (which will continue in 2013/14) was initially adopted across 12 classes as part of St Leonards' International Baccalaureate in English Language and Literature and has since been successfully incorporated more broadly across the curriculum. As a learning resource in schools, the project provides a model for introducing and training students to engage critically with local heritage and new media resources. The school noted that the `project's focus on local history has proved a particularly productive way of introducing topics in film and media to our students'—a pedagogical approach that has been particularly useful with overseas students less familiar with the local culture (doc. 5.4).

Film Exhibition and Audience Development

As Creative Scotland has been actively tracking, film exhibition has diminished in Scotland to the extent that more than 25% of the region no longer has active film venues. Given this context, Cinema St Andrews has used its research to cultivate local film culture by formalising collaborative partnerships with societies (for example, Colinsburgh Community Cinema, since 2012) and by acquiring extensive local footage. These initiatives resulted in a series of screenings throughout the town in existing cultural centres (a local theatre and cinema) and non-theatrical sites (including a church and school), attracting diverse audiences comprised of long-term local residents, tourists, school children and university students. For example in 2013, the project ran a film season that celebrated the town's rich cinematic heritage by curating free film shows in historically significant local sites. These included a performance of a silent film, with live piano accompaniment, at the Hope Park and Martyrs Church, attended by more than 150 people — a large and diverse audience for a film screening in St Andrews. The screening recalled the town's first cinema, which was a converted church used from 1909. Further screenings included a historical recreation of a programme from 1964 from the St Andrews Film Society, which at the time was one of the strongest in the United Kingdom with 1,025 members. The related Film Society programmes are one example of the resources digitised and made accessible through the project's website (ref. 4). On collaborating on these commemorative screenings with a variety of sites and local institutions, the project has worked in the context of the town's changing cinematic landscape to form and nurture `the personal and institutional connections that are vital for long-term development and sustainability' of local cultural initiatives (see Colinsburgh reference doc. 5.5).

By illuminating the key role of film as a major part of the heritage of St Andrews in the 20th and 21st centuries, Cinema St Andrews has made significant progress in fostering a sustainable, local framework for film culture, which draws on the town's past to create impact on cultural life in the present. Where the history of film in St Andrews had been disconnected from the larger history of the town, Cinema St Andrews has discovered and made visible the long-standing significance of film to the international image of St Andrews, as well as the long history of film events and film culture associated with the town. In doing so, the project has created partnerships among several of the town's cultural, tourist and educational institutions, building a collaborative network where none had existed before. Moreover, Cinema St Andrews has developed film culture in St Andrews through a series of innovative exhibitions and film screenings, creating impact on cultural life.

Sources to corroborate the impact

Doc. 5.1: Corroborating letter from the Chairman of the St Andrews Preservation Trust (Cultural Heritage)

Doc. 5.2: Corroborating letter from the Event Director of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship (Cultural Heritage)

Doc. 5.3: Corroborating letter from the Editor of local newspaper St Andrews in Focus (Cultural Heritage)

Doc. 5.4: Corroborating letter from the Headmaster of St Leonards School (Secondary Education and Classroom Pedagogy)

Doc. 5.5: Corroborating letter from the Chairman of the Colinsburgh Community Cinema (Film Exhibition)

Doc. 5.6: Analysis of web traffic