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February 22, 2012

Amazing fundraising feat


If the film fans of Aberfeldy had gone along with the idea that the future of cinema lay in the land of the multiplex, life might have been a lot easier.  But that’s not how communities work. Especially when a magnificent (albeit closed) art deco cinema in the town’s main square has served as a constant reminder over the years of what’s been missing.  The Friends of Birks Cinema set themselves a target of raising a whopping £2m to bring it back into service.



Alan Richardson, The Courier


The red carpet was rolled out in Aberfeldy for the Friends of Birks Cinema after it completed a remarkable feat of fundraising. The Birks Cinema building in Aberfeldy is set for a transformation. A Big Lottery Award of almost £540,000 saw the credits roll on a remarkable effort which has seen more than £2m raised by the community group since August.

The blockbusting total means match funding from the Scottish Government’s Rural Development Programme can now be secured and Aberfeldy will have a cinema at its heart again.

The campaign to restore the Birks as a state-of-the-art cinema has attracted widespread backing, with Aberfeldy-born film star Alan Cumming and Oscar-winner Emma Thompson lending support.

The £539,950 from the Big Lottery Fund also provides revenue support for five years to give the project a jumpstart.

Chairwoman Charlotte Flower said: ”I can’t express just how excited we are to have gained such an award and recognition from the Big Lottery Fund. Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Rural Development Programme on the project overall and it will take a few weeks to complete due diligence on the whole package — but now that we are able to confirm the Big Lottery Fund award we are very confident.”

Ms Flower thanked all those who had helped.

She said: ”The big grants and major funds from the SRDP, the Scottish Hydro Griffin Windfarm Community Fund and Creative Scotland have been crucially important, but the campaign has been about more than just large amounts of money.

”Some of the most amazing efforts have come from individuals locally. From the child who popped in to an open doors day to donate their pocket money the other week, to the local distillery which has sponsored a row of seats; and local people spending £4,000 in one evening at our postcard auction or attending the packed-out Big B concert — every single act of kindness, support and generosity is equally important and very much appreciated.”

Big Lottery Fund Scotland chairwoman Maureen McGinn said: ”The Big Lottery Fund is delighted to be able to support this exciting local project, which has enormous potential to build on the wave of local enthusiasm and create a real community-owned asset in the heart of Aberfeldy.”

The cinema opened in 1939 but fell into neglect, and the Friends bought it in 2005. When complete, the building could show the latest films, including in 3D and play live broadcast links, with live performances and a cafe bar.

For more information on the Birks of Aberfeldy cinema projects click here.