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October 5, 2011

Dawn of new era flickers


Where once a cinema could be found on every high street, the advent of new leisure interests and the proliferation of the multiplex spelt the death knell for all but the best supported picture house. But now we live in the age of digital technology which opens up all sorts of new possibilities.  Mix in the hi-tech with a ‘luvvie’ patron or two and a whole new network of community owned cinemas is about to be born



1. The campaign to bring the Birks Cinema in the Perthshire town of Aberfeldy back to life 

“For years, all you heard about was cinemas closing, but now it’s a different story. As someone who loves film, I’m excited by the idea that the town where I was born could soon have world class cinema right on its doorstep. The Birks Cinema has my backing, and I hope it has yours too.” 

Alan Cumming, our Patron.

Now that digital technology makes small local cinemas viable again, the charity Friends of the Birks Cinema aims to transform the Birks into a STATE OF THE ART community run cinema and café bar to entertain both residents and visitors and help put heart back into the town:

A digital system for showing of up to date movies, including 3D, and a wide ranging programme tailored to different interests and age groups

Capacity for live broadcast links – sports, opera and other events from around the world 

A café-bar open to all from morning to late evening 

A venue for live performance and special events 

This lively new addition to the Square will, it is hoped, be equally attractive to young and old alike. As a community run enterprise, it will provide jobs and training, and by returning a much-loved Aberfeldy landmark to its original purpose, it will undoubtedly boost local businesses, bringing residents and visitors into town more frequently. The Birks Cinema has been standing empty in Aberfeldy’s central square for several years – a sad corner of this beautiful Perthshire town. 

The Friends of the Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy have been pledged £658,620 from the Scotland Rural Development Programme. Despite a massive financial boost, the group behind plans to regenerate a Highland Perthshire cinema have said there is “still a mountain to climb.” The money is half the amount needed to carry out the project, which will breathe new life into the disused 1939 building, in the town’s central square.

However, the Friends must match the funding by the end of the year if the ambitious plan is to become a reality. Chairwoman Charlotte Flower said, “This is a magnificent gesture of support for the whole area. A new cinema at the heart of our community will be great for everyone who lives here and everyone who visits and, by adding to the attractions of Highland Perthshire, it will benefit local businesses too.”

Although the SRDP grant announcement is reason to celebrate, Ms Flower has cautioned that it does not make the reopening of the cinema a certainty.

She said, “If we can’t find the remaining sum needed to carry out the work, the SRDP offer will be withdrawn.

2. Phoenix rises from ashes as Oban cinema is saved

Angus Howarth, The Scotsman 21 September 2011

OBAN’S only cinema has been officially saved by locals – with the help of celebrity friends. 

A community group yesterday completed the £165,000 purchase of the building that has lain empty for more than a year. It is a 100-mile trip to the next nearest cinema.

The Phoenix picture house in the Argyll town is in the ownership of the town’s residents after a nationwide fundraising campaign attracted investment from locals and people throughout Scotland.

Community efforts to buy the building were backed by Social Investment Scotland, Artemis and other organisations, while almost £35,000 came from the local community.

Other investment came from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, which awarded £50,000 towards the purchase price.

A fundraiser to help reopen the cinema next week is expected to see Dame Judi Dench interviewed by Clive Anderson in a castle. 

The Duke of Argyll has agreed to host the event at his ancestral home, Inveraray Castle. The actress and talk-show host are patrons of the cinema as they are both regular visitors to Argyll.

Other patrons include Robbie Coltrane, Tilda Swinton, John Hannah and Dougray Scott.