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Efforts of CINEMA Chupki TABATA 2-8-4 Higashitabata, Kita-ku, Tokyo
A movie theater where no one feels any barriers and can experience peace of mind
A universal theater created by connections between people
CINEMA Chupki TABATA is Japan's first universal theater. The movie theater was established based on the desire to create a truly open movie theater where people who hesitate to go to movie theaters for various reasons can enjoy movies without worry. Chihoko Hiratsuka, the theater representative, and Hiroaki Wada, the manager, talked to us about the theater's specific efforts.
A dream given shape as a result of volunteer activities
Starting in 2001, we volunteered with the City Lights group for 16 years in an effort to create an environment that uses voice guidance to give visually impaired people the chance to enjoy movies. During this time, we started dreaming of creating a permanent movie theater of this sort. Although we held a barrier-free movie festival once per year, it was difficult to achieve this dream, so we made a snap decision to find a way to make it a reality and got started. Because the volunteer group's home office is in Kita and we have connections to Kita's community and people, we decided to run the theater right here in Tabata.
Fundraising through crowdfunding
To establish a new movie theater, it was necessary to take thorough soundproofing measures. Upon requesting an estimate, we learned that it would cost around 15 million yen for soundproofing equipment alone, with a total cost of around 20 million yen. Driven by a strong desire to create a place people who experience access barriers could visit without worry, we decided to take a shot at crowdfunding to raise the funds. Based on the opinions of many people we had met during our activities until then, we provided information on what kind of movie theater we wanted to make to the crowdfunding community, and we were able to obtain the approval of many people.
Hearing-impaired people told us that they wanted speakers that would enable them to feel vibrations, wheelchair users told us how the only seats they ever saw for them were at the edges, and people representing child-rearing support NPOs told us there is a need for places that mothers can enjoy. We applied these and other opinions, such as by creating a parent-and-child viewing room.
The backing of City Lights supporters was naturally a major factor, but we also obtained approval from people we met via SNS, and we ultimately ended up raising more than 18 million yen from 531 people.
Our popular parent-and-child viewing room
Most of our customers are not disabled, and-although it varies depending on the movie-only around 20% of our customers are disabled. However, I think this is a higher percentage than general movie theaters. Partially due to the City Lights activities, a large percentage of these people are visually impaired.
Our efforts to make the theater barrier-free include providing wheelchair space and setting up a parent-and-child viewing room. Everything from the entrance to the restrooms and seats is barrier-free, so customers can watch movies without getting out of their wheelchairs. In addition, we set up a parent-and-child viewing room next to the theater, which customers can freely enter and leave when their children start crying or other issues arise. Parents of children with developmental disabilities are particularly happy with this room. When we ran a movie featuring autism at one point, a lot of parents brought their children with them, and there were many cases where the children could not sit still, so we heard that being able to use the parent-and-child viewing room made it possible to watch the movie without having to worry. Although a reservation is necessary if a customer intends to start using the room as soon as they get to the theater, customers can freely enter and leave the room as the situation demands in other cases.
Other contents we offer include earbud-based voice guidance and Japanese subtitles.
Currently, we only have 20 seats and one screen due to requirements of the Fire Service Act, so it's difficult to put together a showtime schedule. We think it would be better to have one more screen if at all possible. There is actually another facility in the ward with a theater that isn't used much, and the facility itself is spacious and sufficiently well-equipped, so we would like to be able to find a way to use it through outsourcing or some other type of collaboration.
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