Lifeline for Picture House cinema in Campbeltown

A RESCUE bid to revive the fortunes of one of Scotland’s most historic cinema buildings has received a major cash boost, just weeks after the landmark was forced to close its doors.
The Picture House in Campbeltown received 400,000 boost. Picture: Sarah MacDonaldThe Picture House in Campbeltown received 400,000 boost. Picture: Sarah MacDonald
The Picture House in Campbeltown received 400,000 boost. Picture: Sarah MacDonald

Arts agency Creative Scotland has agreed to plough money into the Picture House in Campbeltown in a bid to get the 101-year-old cinema up and running again.

It has agreed to provide £400,000 towards a planned restoration of the art deco structure and creation of a second screen, cafe-bar and new foyer.

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The A-listed Picture House was the longest-running cinema in Scotland until it closed last month, with the community group which owns it blaming the amount of improvement work needed to make it commercially viable.

The famous Argyll cinema was placed into voluntary liquidation but its parent company, Campbeltown Community Business Limited, has insisted it is planning to press on with plans for a full overhaul of the site.

Plans to breathe new life into the Picture House have been mooted for years, but the costs have risen from about £1.7 million in 2010 to more than £3m.

However, the community trust, formed in 1987 to secure its future, insists it is still on track to get building work under way next year, with a target of reopening by the end of 2016.

A taskforce was formed at the beginning of last year in a bid to secure the long-term future of the cinema, ahead of its 100th anniversary. Historic Scotland has already pledged almost half a million pounds for the project, while the Heritage Lottery Fund has ringfenced more than £800,000. Creative Scotland said its grant would “recognise and maintain the historic nature of the A-listed auditorium, protecting its cultural heritage whilst enabling the cinema to increase the diversity of programming”.

Jane Mayo, chair of Campbeltown Community Business Limited, said: “The redeveloped Picture House will provide the community and visitors with a magnificent historic cinema equipped to modern standards complemented by new facilities.

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“The programme of films and live relays of international quality cultural performances, together with activities based on the heritage of the building and the evolution of cinema, will allow the Picture House truly to become Kintyre’s cultural and entertainment hub.”

Ms Mayo said the trust was expecting further funding decisions from various bodies, trusts and foundations this year.

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She added: “Detailed design work and tendering will take place between January and July next year, with work on-site starting in September 2015. The complete restoration and redevelopment is scheduled for completion by December 2016.”

Meanwhile, a long-awaited new centre for children’s literature, earmarked for the childhood home of Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, has been awarded almost £700,000.

The restoration plan for Moat Brae House in Dumfries, where the author lived between the ages of 13 and 18, would see the property become a flagship attraction for the town, including an adventure garden in the grounds where Barrie played.

The fundraising campaign was launched three years ago by actress Joanna Lumley, patron of the £4.5m project, due for completion in 2016.

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