Lifeline funding deals for Scotland's independent cinemas revealed

A host of Scotland’s most historic cinemas have been given a share of a £3.55 million rescue package to help them withstand the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The family-owned Dominion, which dates back to 1938, is one of Edinburgh's most historic cinemas.
The family-owned Dominion, which dates back to 1938, is one of Edinburgh's most historic cinemas.

The Dominion and Filmhouse in Edinburgh, the Glasgow Film Theatre, Campbeltown’s Picture, the Newton Stewart Cinema, the Birks in Aberfeldy, Aberdeen’s Belmont and the Phoenix in Oban have all had lifelife support confirmed following months of upheaval and uncertainty.

Other cinemas to benefit from the resilience fund created by the Scottish Government in August including the Pavilion in Galashiels, the New Picture House in St Andrews, the Lonsdale in Annandale, Perth Playhouse and the Bo’ness Hippodrome.

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Scotland’s famous mobile cinema, The Screen Machine, which takes movies to some of the country’s most remote destinations, has received emergency funding.

The lifeline support expected to allow many long-standing cinemas to reopen for the first time since the coronavirus shutdown in the spring as it will help offset their reduced capacities and meet the costs of introducing social distancing measures.

Funding has also been secured by the operators of arts centres across Scotland to help secure their future of their cinemas, including An Lanntair in Stornoway, Eden Court in Inverness, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Stirling’s Macrobert, Mareel in Shetland and The Tower in Helensburgh.

All cinemas in Scotland were forced to close their doors in March, along with the rest of the country’s performing arts venues, due to the spread of Covid-19. Although they were given permission to reopen in the middle of July, it has been financially unviable for many to do so. Others which have reopened have been forced to close down this week due to the new restrictions introduced in the central belt under the Scottish Government’s new five-tier system.

The Glasgow Film Theatre received the largest award, £415,171, while the Centre for the Moving Image received £627,849 to help support the running of the Filmhouse and the Belmont.

The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy dates back to 1939.

Many venues to benefit from the cinema funding had previously received emergency support to help them through the pandemic, including Eden Court in Inverness, the Macrobert in Stirling, and Shetland Arts, which runs the Mareel arts centre and An Lanntair, the main arts centre on the Isle of Lewis.

The Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund was aimed at helping venue operators to bridge the “significant immediate financial gap” they are expecting to have to deal with until the spring.

Sambrooke Scott, head of audience development at Screen Scotland, the government agency which is administering the fund, said: “Independent cinemas have always played a vital role in communities across Scotland, bringing people together to immerse themselves in great film experiences from filmmakers around the world, and around the corner.

“It’s been the most challenging of times for these hard-working venues but they will continue to open and operate safely as local restrictions allow.

"By putting stringent measures in place to protect staff and audiences alike they will open where able and bring the magic and escapism of cinema back, which is something we need now more than ever.”


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