Event cinema outfit Secret Cinema received a backlash 10 days ago after it was revealed the company had be given a £977,000 ($1.3M) grant from the UK government as part of its Culture Recovery Fund. Today, the company quietly released a statement on its website from CEO Max Alexander defending its position.
“2020 has been an extremely difficult year for Secret Cinema, from rescheduling shows, cancelling projects and taking the heart-breaking decision to make a third of our talented colleagues redundant,” the letter reads. “Some questions have arisen on social media about our eligibility; mainly out of confusion about what we are and what we do. We aren’t a cinema and it seems that we have been a little too secret. So we’d like to lift the veil of secrecy and be transparent.”
The statement says the org puts on events that “cost millions” and “employ hundreds of staff”. It also says the company pays “a minimum of London living wage or equity rates, where appropriate”. Secret Cinema has previously received criticism for perceived underpaying of actors or staff at past events.
According to the letter, the company employs 32 full time staff and two fixed term contractors, after the COVID-caused redundancies. It notes that the company has raised £130,000 ($170,000) for charity since 2015.
Alexander writes that the outfit intends to “cast close to 200 actors over three titles and many more behind the scenes” in 2021. This year, it was planning a Dirty Dancing event that has been postponed, and it also has deals with Netflix and Disney for future experiences.
The letter does not specify exactly how the grant money will be spent. The company did not immediately respond to Deadline‘s request for further information.
As we previously reported, Secret Cinema’s parent company Secret Group’s accounts show a loss of £2.9M for the year 2019, and a loss of £1.4M for the previous year, that’s despite recording turnovers of £15.8M in 2019 and £10.8M the previous year. The company has private equity backing from Active Partners’ $131M fund.
You can read Alexander’s full letter here.