Edinburgh Filmhouse: City council agrees crucial funding to help boarded-up Lothian Road cinema to re-open
Efforts to revive Edinburgh’s boarded-up Filmhouse cinema have been given a huge boost after the city council gave the green light to put money into the project for the first time.
Senior councillors have agreed to support a fundraising campaign aimed at reopening the arthouse cinema in time for next year’s Edinburgh International Festival.
The £60,000 grant will help pay for a planned refurbishment of the Lothian Road landmark, which was closed down suddenly in October last year after its operator went into administration.
The council has offered financial support despite the building being bought by hospitality company Caledonian Heritage. It has been in talks for months with a new charity over a long-term lease, which would bring the Filmhouse back to life after a planned spring refurbishment.
The council has agreed to use part of the £100,000 grant that previously went to the Centre to the Moving Image, which ran both the Filmhouse and the Edinburgh International Film Festival, for the revamp. It is hoped the council will also help fund the reborn Filmhouse after it reopens.
Half of the £1.25 million targeted for the revamp by new charity Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd, which was set up by a group of former staff, has now been raised. A public crowdfunder aimed at raising £250,000 has reached the £190,000 mark.
Val Walker, the council’s culture convener, said: “We’re delighted to see the progress of the fundraising campaign and to be in a position to contribute. Crucially, this funding is in-budget and has been agreed by elected members. Alongside the wider stakeholder group, we look forward to our continued dialogue and working with Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd.
“We’re committed to having a home for cultural cinema in the heart of the city. Edinburgh is rightly one of the great cultural cities of the world and cultural cinema is a key part of this landscape.”
The council funding has been confirmed weeks after Scottish Government agency Screen Scotland pledged almost £300,000. Other funding pledges and Gift Aid have taken the overall tally past past £625,000.
A spokesperson for Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd said: “This is fantastic news and everyone who has their heart in the campaign will want to thank the council for this tangible commitment to opening the doors once more.
"Filmhouse, as a cultural institution that celebrates the art of film alongside the other artforms supported in Edinburgh, aims to re-open as soon as the total necessary funds have been raised. The funds are needed for a full refurbishment of the cinemas and public areas, including the much-loved cafe-bar.
“We plan to provide the broad range of cultural cinema that the city is lacking just now, as well as to host the diverse group of specialist and community film festivals which have been missing their long-standing home.”
David Smith, Screen Scotland’s director of screen, said: “Screen Scotland and the council have worked together to support the return of the Filmhouse. It’s a vital resource for Edinburgh and Scotland, providing a home for filmmakers, film lovers and film festivals, and a hub for film education.
"Its absence is keenly felt by us all and Screen Scotland continues to work for its revival. Its return would signify not just the reopening of a cinema, but the return of a vital home for the artform.”
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