Bringing the magic of cinema to those living with dementia, and their companions in Derbyshire's communities.
Matinee Derbyshire

Project overview

Why the project matters

Matinée provides dementia friendly cinema screenings across Derbyshire for people living with memory challenges, their family and friends.

People with a dementia are ‘at higher risk of social isolation through a loss of social networks/ social support… Social isolation… has been associated with the risk of developing dementia.” Reducing social isolation: PHE, September 2015

Matinée acts as an everyday, enjoyable leisure activity, helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness. It gives those living with dementia andtheir carers ‘time out’ together to relax and enjoy a cinema outing and be looked after by our volunteers.

We show at least 4 films a year in each of the 9 districts of Derbyshire. This includes rural communities, market towns, and Derby City.

Cinemas and social activities are often inaccessible to this group. Around half of the population of Derbyshire live more than an hour’s travel away from a cinema. Extended journey times and the poor quality of bus services for many in rural Derbyshire has hampered access to cinema for many. Matinée is able to bring a pop-up cinema to one location in each district/borough of the county, and also offers assistance with transport costs for those living in the community.


We aim to:

  • Improve mental wellbeing across Derbyshire through the arts.
  • Increase numbers of vulnerable groups participating in arts activity.
  • Develop our knowledge/understanding of the evidence base for arts in dementia, specifically film.
  • Disseminate information, knowledge, good practice and skills, including supporting external groups to set up their own dementia friendly screenings.
  • Facilitate more discussion and social interaction with audience members through the use of resources and film related activities before the film and at the interval.
  • Explore the impact of different types of films, including more modern titles, and non-musicals, with reference to the suggestions made by audience members living with dementia.
  • Develop links to local promoters and ‘gatekeepers’ so that we better reach individuals living with dementia in the community.

Headline results

  • We have hosted 62 film screenings in 12 venues across 9 districts in the county. These include village and church halls, theatres, cinemas, a school and a dementia care complex.
  • We have had 1796 patron visits to our screenings. 972 patrons have been living with a dementia, with 365 friends/family and 306 professional carers also attending.
  • Our volunteers have clocked up 897 volunteer hours over 200 visits to events.
  • We ensure our screenings are dementia friendly in a range of ways, including: creating a welcoming and relaxed environment; keeping lights on low during the film; providing clear signage; having a quiet space available for use at all times; and making sure all our staff and volunteers have suitable training.  All our venues are wheelchair accessible, with appropriate facilities.
  • The audience often join in with well-known songs in the films, and rounds of applause at the end of a screening are common! We aim to create a sociable and friendly atmosphere with a classic film, often a musical, refreshments (including cake!), and interval events such as singing or fun film related activities and chat, prompting engagement, stirring memories, and encouraging deepening of relationships.


Films have been initially curated by the Project Coordinator with reference to similar schemes and programmes. These have concentrated on 1950s musicals. We also regularly ask our audiences who their favourite actors are, and their favourite films, and incorporate these responses into programming, , as well as trying some other types of films out too.

Films we have shown include: A Christmas Carol, African Queen, American in Paris, Annie Get Your Gun, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Brief Encounter, Calamity Jane, Carousel, Casablanca, Charlie Chaplin, Easter Parade, Funny Face, Genevieve, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, The Glenn Miller Story, High Society, It’s a Wonderful Life, Kiss Me Kate, Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, Meet Me in St Louis, Oklahoma, On The Town, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Show Boat, Singin’ in the Rain, Some Like It Hot, South Pacific, Summer Holiday, The King and I, The Magnificent Seven, There’s No Business Like Show Business, Top Hat, Victoria and Abdul, Viva Las Vegas and White Christmas.

Key partnerships

The project is funded by The Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Derbyshire County Council Public Health, with contribution from Arts Derbyshire’s own funds.

We work with a wide cross-section of partners including: Derbyshire County Council (Arts Team, Public Health and Adult Care); CCGs; The University of Nottingham; The Alzheimer’s Society; the Film Hub Midlands; Derby QUAD; and the Derbyshire Dementia Action Alliance. Matinée is also proud to be a member of the BFI Film Audience Network.

We are also incredibly thankful to our tremendous team of 30+ Alzheimer’s Society volunteers across the county who attend local screenings and add to the smooth running of the scheme.


  • £217k over 4 years, including £175,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Arts Access and Participation ‘More and Better’ Fund.
  • £64k for film screenings.
  • £155k for project costs, including a project manager for four years, publicity & marketing, website, training, evaluation, ancillary costs etc.

Man smiles at woman with coloured lights behind

Learning outcomes

What worked

  • We have developed an engaging collection of stand up cardboard cut outs of Hollywood stars that we place around each venue, including the foyer. People like having their photos taken with them (especially the men with Marilyn Munroe!). People have commented that the standees add to the atmosphere, and act as a stimulation for some people to engage in the afternoon and start conversations. One woman started telling Humphrey Bogart off for holding a cigarette and smoking indoors!
  • We have film specific quizzes and activities. The most popular activities seem to be quiz sheets with missing song words (e.g ‘I’m dreaming of a ____ Christmas’). Many of our venues are laid out in a cabaret style, and we find that the quizzes become a table activity with carers encouraging people to work together. At QUAD we hold sing-alongs in the interval, and in the rest of the programme we run those at Christmas where possible – which is always popular.
  • We have a collection of photos showing film stars and original film posters that are displayed on each table using little photo stands. It stimulates conversation, and gets people connecting. Carers often lead a conversation about the actors and films – some of the younger carers comment they are learning as they don’t know much about the older film stars. It has worked well in getting some of those with more progressed dementia engaged at their own table.
  • Having intervals after an hour allows people to stretch their legs, go to the toilet, and chat before refocussing for the second half.
  • We look after both the carer and the cared-for with tea/coffee, biscuits and cakes. Quite often carers tell us how refreshing it is to be looked after at these events. They feel as if they can relax and enjoy the experience alongside their loved one, and say they don’t get this opportunity at other dementia related activities which are often more ‘medical’ and formal.
  • Having capacity to share our experience with groups (including film clubs, parish councils, libraries, schools etc.) who are interested in developing dementia friendly screenings.

What didn’t work

  • Some film choices haven’t worked well with the target audience such as Breakfast at Tiffany’sand Some Like It Hot. The dialogue was too fast in the former, and the plot too complicated in the latter.
  • We can’t fulfil some of the frequently requested films as they are too long for us to use such as Sound of Music, West Side Storyand Gone with the Wind.
  • At the beginning of the scheme we had a few care home issues. A couple were turning up late, leaving before the film finished (sometimes half way through the afternoon due to shift changes for staff), and not always bringing enough care staff to look after the number of residents. We have remedied this by having a standard letter that is shared with all care homes that we mail or who contact us. It outlines what we deliver, and what we need them to agree to if they come. It has worked well as the scheme has developed.

What you’d do differently if you did it again

  • Physically visit all the dementia groups and activities across the county to promote the scheme. We have sent printed publicity to all the venues, and to the agencies running activities. However, we have found that someone physically able to attend and advocate for the scheme has more impact. Capacity to do this is an issue, however.
  • Consider planning the whole year’s programme in advance so it can all be publicised in one leaflet rather than lots of different localised posters. We have done this for Year 3 of the scheme, and it has yielded more interest in emails and phone calls.

People reading the Matinee flyer in a circle


‘Taking part in arts increases confidence (‘social facilitation’), encouraging participants to access activity more readily and likely having ‘great effects on their mental wellbeing’.

Impact of arts-based intervention’: Masters Dissertation/ arts:impact, Oluwatosin Adesina, 2015

  • One new gentleman literally danced out into the street at the end, singing ‘I’m singing in the rain” – well, it was raining! His wife looked back and said “I don’t know when I last saw my husband this happy.”
  • There was one woman, who probably had learning difficulties as well as dementia, who didn’t have a lot of speech herself and made guttural sounds. She sang along to each and every carol (including the couple in the film) and was absolutely on the right rhythm for each song. She clearly knew exactly what was going on. It was lovely to see her so engaged and enjoying herself.
  • A new nursing home came and they were very positive – planning to come again. They brought a big platter of sandwiches and passed them round – it was like a party!
  • “We have really missed going to the cinema together – this means we can do that again”
  • D is a carer from a home. She brought 2 residents to the screening, a husband and wife. The wife has dementia, and very little hearing. They have lived in the home for 2 years, and never been on an outing. D got them trying on all the hats and scarves, and took photos of them with some of the Hollywood characters etc. She was very moved because the wife was clearly enjoying it and smiling and laughing. She said that rarely happens at the home (because the wife often relives distressing times from the past…).
  • We have shared our learning with various organisations to support their development of dementia-friendly screenings. The Project Coordinator has met with groups to talk through how it works and what we have learned, given presentations at larger events and exchanged advice by phone and email. This bespoke support has been extremely effective in helping other organisations to get sustainable activity off the ground – a great legacy. Organisations we have supported so far: Broadway Cinema, Nottingham; Buxton Opera House; Darley Dale Film Club; Mansfield Libraries – Inspire: Culture, Learning and Libraries; The Northern Light Cinema, Wirksworth; The Ritz, Belper. We have also offered dementia-friendly screening advice on request via email to Hucknall Community Cinema, Worcester Libraries, and Botton Village.


  • Matinée helps people living with dementia, their friends, family and carers to live well and feel less isolated.
  • Matinée provides increased volunteering opportunities.
  • Matinée reaches people who do not otherwise have access to cinema.
  • Matinée enables a more diverse use of village halls and provides income, so that they can continue to serve their villages and become more of a social centre.
  • Matinée contributes to developing dementia friendly communities.


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