I signed my name to a petition this week. Added my name to a long list of folks who just so happened to stumble upon a list of names fighting for change. It was a change.org petition to save tower cinemas.
Last week I wrote a top five uses for the soon to be shut down cinema on King Street. It was a tongue in cheek piece that I most definitely wrote to hide my own sadness and disappointment. Because honestly, the only thing that space should be used for is a cinema.
For those who don’t know, Tower cinemas was one of the very first multiplex cinemas in Australia. From memory, I think there may have been, for a time, only one other in Sydney. That’s a pretty great feat for a not so small town like ours and it just goes to show that someone, somewhere, once thought our town deserved to be ranked pretty highly amongst the places to see and be seen.
Whenever I’ve brought up the issue about Tower cinemas though, especially to those who call the burbs home I’m met with a variety of expressions that seem to say “so what”. Their expression and following conversation also seem to say “yeah but there are so many other cinemas around the center of town us dead anyway”. Something else which also never fails to break my heart.
Did you know that there are still a few loyalists left in town? The kind who would rather go to Tower cinemas because of the nostalgic and downright lovely experience it offers them? Did you also know that they show movies that most cinemas turn a blind eye on? The kind of movies where writing is celebrated and different voices are heard?
People hear about the closure of tower cinemas and put it down to simply another casualty to the gentrification of a town that never asked to be gentrified. It’s like someone, somewhere along the way decided that Newcastle was just a little too quirky, too original, and too left of center for its own good and thought it was time we moved out of the slow lane and worked towards achieving a set standard of city KPIs.
One or two closures perhaps could have been overlooked. But how many local institutions will it take for us as Novocastrians to wake up and realize exactly what’s happening? Metaphorically this whole gentrification process is akin to Stephen King’s The Mist. It started out small and strange and kind of exciting. Until of course, eventually, it will swallow us whole.