Forty-three cinemas will share £650,000 from a support fund aimed at helping the venues through the coronavirus pandemic, the Culture Secretary has announced.
The movie theatres are receiving the funding as part of the Government’s previously announced £30 million fund to help independent cinemas.
The first tranche of support has gone to venues across England in locations including Gloucester, London, Plymouth, Rochdale, Wakefield and Sheffield.
Mr Dowden said: “We all enjoyed the escapism of a good film during lockdown, but nothing beats the experience of the big screen.
“This first wave of emergency funding will help dozens of independent cinemas around the country, preserving their unique character and history for future generations.”
He added that the public need to “play their part” in helping the sector.
“So I urge everyone to get booking your seats and support your local cinema,” Mr Dowden said.
In a statement issued by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, actor Idris Elba said it is important cinemas are given support.
“In a time with so much change and uncertainty around us, there is comfort in the familiarity of a comfy pair of seats and some popcorn at your local cinema,” the Luther star said.
“It’s a simple and effective way of bonding with our cities and culture.
“We depend on the independent cinema and they depend on us to support them, now more than ever.”
Elba’s Luther co-star Ruth Wilson said she is “thrilled” the funding is being made available to the smaller venues.
“They, alongside all local arts organisations, are lifelines for their communities and for the people that work in them.”
Kinema In The Woods in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire, has received a grant of £4,002.
Philip Jones, the cinema’s manager, said: “We are very grateful to the Culture Recovery Fund for supporting the costs of putting into place safety measures and providing PPE which meant we could safely reopen our doors.”
On Friday, applications opened for a £500 million fund aimed at getting delayed or halted film and TV productions up and running.
The scheme will compensate producers who incur costs if shoots are delayed or abandoned because of coronavirus.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “The UK’s cinemas and film and TV production industry are a key part of our culture – they provide thousands of jobs and help to entertain the nation.
“So I’m delighted that we can support independent cinemas through the Cultural Recovery Fund, and help to get productions up and running again through the Film and TV Production Restart Scheme, protecting vital jobs across the industry.”