Cinema for the common good: Municipalisation and mass entertainment in early twentieth-century Scotland

Trevor Griffiths, Julia Bohlmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

In the years during and immediately after the first world war, a number of Scottish burghs considered extending their range of activities to take in the provision of entertainment by means of the cinema, the most significant mass entertainment medium of the early twentieth century. In doing so, they sought to make use of a particular Scottish institution, the common good fund. This article explores the thinking, political, economic and cultural, behind this marked expansion in public enterprise. It examines in detail the working of businesses where full responsibility for cinema operations was assumed, paying particular attention to matters of pricing, programming and the disposition of profits, noting also the factors which made this experiment in municipal trading short-lived. Although largely abandoned by the early 1920s, municipal cinema provided a model for more sustained local initiatives and exemplifies Scotland's deep and varied engagement with the moving image across the twentieth century.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-136
Number of pages26
JournalScottish Historical Review
Volume99
Issue number1
Early online date1 Apr 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2020

Keywords

  • Scotland
  • twentieth century
  • cinema
  • municipalisation
  • common good fund
  • Keir Hardie
  • Tom Johnston

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