A host of Scotland’s most historic picture houses will be among the dozens of venues getting extra financial help to withstand the impact of ongoing social distancing restrictions.
The Scottish Government’s film and TV funding agency, Screen Scotland, has announced the lifeline funding to coincide with the date for cinemas to reopen for the first time since new lockdown restrictions were imposed in December.
They were allowed to open for five months last year following the initial easing of restrictions.
In common with theatres and concert halls in Scotland, cinema operators have been told to enforce two metre social distancing on audiences.
The new lifelife grants, worth £1.98m, have been shared among 29 venues and operators across Scotland six months after £3.55m was distributed to help the independent sector bridge the financial gap caused Covid restrictions.
Campbeltown Picture House, Bo'ness Hippodrome and the Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels are among the long-running venues welcoming back audiences in coming days with the help of the latest support.
The Dominion and Filmhouse in Edinburgh, the Belmont in Aberdeen and The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy are among the other venues planning forthcoming reopenings after receiving support.
Film fans will also be returning to arts centres like DCA in Dundee, An Lanntair in Stornoway, and Mareel in Shetland as a result of the funding.
However, the Glasgow Film Theatre and the Moray Playhouse in Elgin, which have also benefited from the new backing, face delays in reopening as a result of the recent tightening of restrictions in these two areas.
Sambrooke Scott, head of audience development at Screen Scotland, said: “The Covid crisis has presented independent cinemas with one of the toughest challenges ever faced.
"As restrictions ease and hope grows, we would like to pay particular tribute to the passionate, dedicated staff who are working hard to ensure the safe return of the big-screen experience.
“Cinemas are magical, transportive places where we come together to experience stories that move us, thrill us and excite us.
"Cinema goers are eager to enjoy the big screen and support in the recovery of the cinemas they love, and Screen Scotland will continue to work tirelessly to support cinemas return and further growth."
Andrew Poole, director of the Pavilion Cinema in Galashiels, said: “After a long and difficult year, we couldn’t be more excited to finally be reopening today alongside cinemas across the country.
"We know from feedback from our audiences and staff during this time how much they’re looking forward to being able to return and we have a range of safety measures in place to ensure a visit is safe, welcoming and enjoyable.”
Ken Hay, chief executive of the Centre for the Moving Image, which runs both the Filmhouse and the Belmont, said: “We can’t wait to welcome everyone back to Filmhouse and Belmont Filmhouse when we reopen our doors on the 31st of May.
"Months of darkness are finally coming to an end and the magic of the communal cinema experience is coming back.”