The project

What is Cinema Nova?

Cinema Nova is a non-commercial cinema located in the centre of Brussels, offering a rich and varied cultural offering. In existence since 1997, it has been running since its beginnings by a collective of volunteers, and organised in the form of a non-profit association (ASBL).

Supernova Coop, what and who is it?

Supernova is a cooperative. It was founded in 2017 by the non-profit organisation Nova and members of Cinema Nova in 2017, with the idea of buying the room which houses the cinema. The project was postponed to 2023. While the rental lease for Cinema Nova expires in a few months, Supernova Coop aims to acquire a 68-year long lease on the building to transfer its use to the non-profit Nova against a modest rent. In this way, the “ownership” of the walls and the roof which house the cinema will remain collective, and the non-profit Nova can stabilize its activity by signing, for the first time in its existence, a real long-term rental lease. Cinema Nova thus maintains its freedom of cultural programming while avoiding an increase in rent which would transform the non-commercial nature of its activity.

If the cinema’s presence in the city centre is threatened, why do you want to buy the current venue rather than looking for another place to move to?

The room at number 3 of Arenberg Street is located in the city centre, which makes it very easily accessible. It is perfectly proportioned to the Nova’s activities: 200 seats, and a home-bar in the basement which allows activities related to the screenings. The non-profit organisation Nova has every reason to stay at this address, especially since the public is used to attending it. Given the real estate developments in Brussels, the Nova would also be hard-pressed to find another room that is similar.

What are the differences between Cinema Nova and Supernova Coop?

Cinema Nova is managed by the non-profit organisation Nova and run by a collective of volunteers. Supernova Coop is a cooperative which aims to acquire the long lease (see the definition) on the building which houses the cinema. The cooperative will rent the space to the cinema for a fair and sustainable amount, but without interfering in the management of the non-profit organisation or in the cinema programming.

Supernova Coop is looking for €794,000. What will that sum cover?

Supernova Coop intends to raise funds to acquire the long lease (€680,000 + €18,484 registration fees) through the issue of cooperative shares. The rest of the funds raised will be used to finance the constitution and operation of the cooperative (administrative, notary fees, expert fees = €21,616), costs linked to the fundraising campaign (€7,750 communication costs + €4,000 bank fees for purchases of shares + €19,700 for campaign support positions), but also certain work incumbent on an owner (€41,000 for boiler work + €1,450 for a monitoring position).

At the time of launching this public offering, Supernova Coop has already raised the sum of €306,150 via a private call and the initial investment of its founders.

Who is and will be the owner of Cinema Nova?
What is a long lease?

The current owner of the building is the Non-Trading Company of the Saint-Hubert Royal Galleries* (Société Civile des Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert). It is this owner who sells the long lease to Supernova Coop for a period of 68 years, upon payment of a one-off fee of €680,000. Thus, Supernova Coop will become the long lease holder while the Royal Galleries* will become the subsector. The leaseholder is a quasi-owner tenant: he is vested with almost all the prerogatives of the owner of a property during the duration of the lease, while the subsoil owner remains the owner of the land.

What would happen to the building if Cinema Nova stopped its activities?

The cooperative society and the long lease were set up to allow the non-profit Nova to continue operating the cinema as it has done for 27 years.

The long lease agreement specifies that the property must be intended for a cinema activity and/or other cultural activities, and incidentally, that it can accommodate complementary activities and services, such as the operation of a home/bar in the basement.

The statutes of Supernova Coop specify that the property can only accommodate artistic and cultural projects promoting research and discovery, the expression of minority cultures and social criticism, in a practice of meeting, exchange and solidarity; projects managed in a collective approach and artistic and economic independence; whose operation favours the development of collective powers and knowledge; and which evolve outside of any search for profit.

The long lease acquired by Supernova Coop therefore confirms the cultural project of Cinema Nova and its philosophy, while not excluding that another structure proposing a similar project could occupy the premises, if Nova were to cease its activities.”

What happens at the end of the lease?

At the expiration of the long lease right in 2092, the long lease deed provides that Supernova Coop returns the property to the subsoil owner (the Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert*), free from any occupation and in a condition allowing the continuation of its operations as a cinema.

Can Supernova sell the building?

Supernova Coop “almost” owns the building, therefore it has the right to resell the long lease after 15 years. In this case, the Société Civile des Galeries Saint-Hubert* would have a priority right to repurchase the room. A buyer would be required to respect the long lease agreement, namely, to allow, in the building, the operation of a cinema hall or hosting another cultural activity, in line with Cinema Nova’s current activities, until in 2092.

Why is Supernova asking Cinema Nova for a rent?

Supernova Coop will have to assume the charges and works that are legal obligations for an owner. It is therefore inevitable that it will ask for a rent from the non-profit Nova, which will constitute almost its only income. Finally, the operation of Supernova Coop also requires a minimum of costs.

Under what conditions will Supernova rent the room to Cinema Nova?

One of the common threads that governed the reflection on the purchase of the long lease right is to ensure that the non-profit Nova pays the lowest possible rent. However, Nova ASBL* has been paying a low rent since 2001 (€10,000 per year), but its lease expires in May 2024. There is a great risk that it cannot be renewed under the same conditions. The objective is therefore that the rent requested by Supernova Coop from Nova ASBL is as close as possible to the rent currently paid, in order not to disrupt the financial balance of Cinema Nova and its ability to invest in non-commercial programming and quality. Supernova Coop’s financial plan provides, in consultation with Cinema Nova, to set this rent at €15,000 per year.

Does Supernova have any control over the activities of Cinema Nova?

The relationship between the ASBL Nova and the Supernova cooperative is a simple tenant-owner relationship. Supernova Coop is very clearly distinguished from the non-profit organisation Nova, which remains alone on board to define its programming and operations. Supernova Coop must, however, as provided in its statutes, ensure that the cinema always meets its own principles set out in its Manifesto since Supernova Coop has the vocation of only renting the building to an organisation which defends these cultural, political and social values.

What would happen if the campaign objective was not achieved?

In the event the full amount of money wasn’t raised in time, the cooperative would have to borrow the remainder of the balance. Contacts have already been made with a number of banks and investment funds that offer relatively low-interest loans to social economy projects.
But this is not our favourite scenario: repaying the loan interest -even at a low rate- would have an impact on our financial plan and, ultimately, on the rent paid by Cinema Nova.

Why does Cinema Nova’s project have a good chance of succeeding?

Cinema Nova has a long history in Brussels and abroad. It holds strong symbol, and is renowned by many players of the cultural scene in town and beyond. It is a unique experience not easily replicable. A couple of serious investors have already come forward to ensure its continuity, and a first private appeal has already raised €300,000. But everyone’s help remains absolutely essential and a priority, via this public appeal!

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