Supporting local art communities is so much more than just a tagline for a bumper sticker. When it comes to local artists and local art galleries, it’s important to remember that art doesn’t exist in a vacuum — it’s a two-way street, an exchange between artist/organizer and audience that has rippling positive impacts on the individuals and the communities surrounding them.
For instance, when young people engage with art, whether its paintings or motion pictures, it can improve their employability, double their chances of volunteering, increase their chances of voting by 20%, bolster their cognitive abilities, and increase the likelihood of getting a college degree for those from low-income families. It works on the other side of the age spectrum, too; frequent engagement with art and culture among seniors leads to greater levels of subjective well-being, including positive effects on conditions such as depression, dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
In recent decades rural areas have suffered a loss of cultural institutions and events such as the local cinema. Traditional corporations and studios struggle to make it a profitable business, adding to the pressure of the ongoing online streaming wars between different providers. Running a cinema in a rural area is considered more difficult however not impossible. It only takes one special individual looking at the opportunities to change the game, where many people only saw obstacles. We are delighted to share the story of Khalil Rashid, who caught our attention by bringing back the tradition of motion picture screenings in his new hometown of Sveg, against all odds. The news has travelled across Sweden and people in his hometown have expressed their joy of the newly reopened local cinema.
Khalil Rashid, 18 years old, thought there was a lack of cinemas in the small town of Sveg in Sweden – so he opened one himself. For several years, the local cinema in Sveg has been closed to the public. When participating in a political debate in his high school the subject of a local cinema came up again and Khalil Rashid took the matter in his own hands.
He took the idea to the municipality and said that he aimed at reviving the old cinema in Sveg by starting his own business. While he announced his idea, several individuals lined up to do the same. However, it takes dedication and business skills to run a local cinema and when he met up with Jessica Strand and Härjedalen municipality she indicated that some of the candidates did not match the skill set they were looking for. There was also a decent amount of bureaucracy involved, which led to that some of the other candidates lost interest or left the application process. Khalil however became more determined to bring back the local cinema to Sveg.
Khalil Rashid came to Sweden in 2015 from war-torn Syria. His father Sarbest had traveled alone 2.5 years earlier in order not to let the family take the long route through the Middle East and Europe.
– We had heard on the news how dangerous it was. Dad couldn’t live with running away with us and the risk of us getting into trouble, so he fled to Sweden himself, then we came after him in a safer way...
When the family was reunited at Arlanda in 2015, he was so happy and Khalil barely remembers how he got to his father at the airport.
The Rashid family lived in different places before they landed in Sveg.. Now both parents work, and brothers Kahlil and Mohammed go to school. But Khalil has always dreamed of running his own company.
So when the politicians started debating who should take over the closed cinema, Khalil accepted the challenge and started to work on a logo and business plan.
– In Sveg there was no cinema, it had closed years ago and I want to do something for the local community who helped me and my family, everyone loves the cinema, and we need a place where locals can meet and share the passion of motion pictures together, says Khalil.
Meanwhile the municipality has lowered the rent and aim to raise it, when they see that Khalil is on stable financial terms with the operations. The building already had the technology to operate a cinema in the form of a sound system and projector, which made it easy for Khalil to set up operations. From other members of the Academy we know that rent agreements for local cinemas haven’t been very beneficial in recent years as rising rents have resulted in large profit losses for an already battled industry who mostly generates profits from selling everything else except the movie ticket itself. We hope that Khalil and the municipality will be able to reach an agreement so that Sveg can keep its local cinema.
Sveg Cinema and Khalil Rashid are being awarded for their outstanding contribution to the community’s cultural enrichment. This initiative has gone above and beyond in re-establishing and promoting independent cinema creating a meeting point for locals to meet and engage. Sveg Cinema has created a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere that brings people together and fosters curiosity and creativity. By providing affordable movie tickets for all age groups, they have become an essential part of the community’s entertainment and cultural education. The honorary membership is a recognition of their commitment to enriching people’s lives through the power of cinema. The RTNworld Academy of Arts and Cultures as well as its members are supporting Sveg Cinema with ticket sales, business consulting and development.
Fantasy is more important than knowledge, because knowledge is limited – Albert Einstein