We’ve been a proud partner of Telethon Community Cinemas since 2010. We caught up with founder, Ken Gibbons to learn about the history of the cinemas and the role they play in supporting children in WA.
The founding of Perth’s most affordable outdoor cinema experience.
After running his own business, and looking for an opportunity to pursue in the fundraising space, Ken Gibbons visited one of Perth’s outdoor cinemas and found the experience to be less than ideal.
Ken had been involved in the cinema industry when he was at university, and held a passion for fundraising. He decided to combine his interests into a new experience, Movies by Burswood Inc.. It would later become Telethon Community Cinemas.
Ken’s interest in fundraising began at an early age. During his school days, he experienced bullying as the result of a stutter, and this bullying left a lasting impression on him. Over the years he has been involved in various fundraising initiatives to help others avoid going through the same experience.
“As a kid with a stutter, like a lot of people going through the same sort of process, I went through hard times at school, so that became the reason or the rationale of why we raised the funds.”
Fundraising into the millions
The Telethon Community Cinemas made a slow but steady start towards fundraising efforts, but have since made a great contribution to the local community.
The cinemas raise funds for a number of beneficiaries, and have supported many others over the years including schools, clubs, and charities.
“In our first seven years we raised one million dollars, total. In our 20 years we’ve raised ten and a half.”
The cost of running an outdoor cinema
The Telethon Community Cinemas raise approximately $600,000 each year and it goes to their main beneficiaries as well as approximately 30 organisations.
The cinemas cost around $1.2 million to run across the four locations, and so the season aims to raise at least $1.8 million, to maintain their fundraising goals.
While Ken has always been heavily involved in running the day-to-day of the cinema experience, his workload is now shared with a team of between 500 and 700 volunteers a season.
“We don’t have any paid staff at screenings. A volunteer opens the gates and a volunteer shuts the gates and runs everything in between.”
Ken still attends regularly, if not daily, despite the volunteer help he has on board;
“In the early days, I was here pretty much every evening and seeing people depart at the end of the night happy smiling, and being aware that we help thousands and thousands of kids, that’s really the reward.”
Volunteer with Telethon Community Cinemas
Thinking of a way to give back to your local community? Consider volunteering with the Telethon Community Cinemas team. The application requirements are simple according to Ken. “Quite a few people don’t have the spare cash to donate to organisations, but they do have spare time. We only ask that they have a good heart and a smile.”
To join the volunteering team, head to communitycinemas.com.au.
Want to experience it for yourself?
Pack your picnic and treat yourself to a night at a Telethon Community Cinemas screening.
Telethon Community Cinemas has four venues; Bassendean, Burswood, Murdoch University and ECU Joondalup Pines, with films running between November and April each year.
“Our emphasis is on everyone, all ages, having the opportunity to socialise and picnic together before watching the films. Everyone can bring pillows and blankets or hire a bean bag, get comfortable and if any of the kids get tired, they can sleep whilst parents enjoy the night.”