DCC: Council officially seeks expressions of interest as Scala Board agrees to hand back the keys

Denbighshire County Council have issued the following press release:

Council officially seeks expressions of interest as Scala Board agrees to hand back the keys

Denbighshire County Council can confirm that the Scala Board has agreed in principle to hand back the building’s lease and the keys following a formal request from the Council’s legal representatives and is now in a position to be able to seek serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to re-open the venue as soon as practically possible.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Youth and Leisure, said:

“While I am saddened to see the end of the Scala in its present form, it was in the present Scala Board’s hands to end this uncertainty, which they have decided to do.”

“Now, we need to start looking forward to a bright new future for the venue and I can assure residents that we will now move forward and we are keen to hear from experienced operators with a clear commercial approach but who will run the cinema as a key community asset.”

The Council has received a number of expressions of interest and will need to consider these through the correct processes. The Council is keen to offer the opportunity to as wide a field as possible in order to find the right operator.”

Councillor Huw Jones added:

“The Council has maintained its strong commitment and support for the venue as we recognise the value to the town’s economy and regeneration of the High Street.”

“We want to secure the future of the Scala. We have a strong and clear track record of turning around the fortunes of failing facilities and we are very confident because of the numbers of expressions of interest we’ve already received – we are pleased that we’re now able to now formalise the process for receiving and evaluating those proposals.”

“This should offer the people of Prestatyn and the wider county confidence that Denbighshire means business when it comes to securing a far brighter future for the Scala.”

“The Council’s priority is to put its efforts into working with an appropriate operator. It’s time to draw a line and start in earnest to plan for the future”.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release | Thursday 29th January 2015

Rhyl Journal: Council letter shows interest in Prestatyn Cinema

A FORMER cinema owner who has offered to help save Prestatyn’s Scala has learnt two other parties are interested in taking over the venue.

Trevor Harris with his letter from Denbighshire County Council (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Trevor Harris with his letter from Denbighshire County Council (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

Trevor Harris, aged 75, was featured in last week’s Journal offering to help take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre if efforts by the current trust fail to secure its reopening.

Mr Harris, who previously owned Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, received a letter from Denbighshire County Council’s corporate director of economic and community ambition after expressing his interest. He was surprised to discover that the authority had “already been approached by two potential operators”.

The letter, that the Journal has seen, states: “While we are not yet in a position to actively pursue an alternative operator, we are keen to be able to do so should circumstances permit.

“We have been approached by two potential operators already and asked them to set out their proposals in writing for us.

“We are interested in proposal from operators willing to take over a lease of the cinema and operate it on a commercial basis without the need for subside fro

m the council.”

Mr Harris said he plans to set out a proposal but first needed to clarify information connected to the Scala’s situation.

He added: “I would like to know who these other two parties are.”

“I’d like to have a tour of the Scala and look at the books but no one is getting back to me. The longer that place is shut the worse it will get. At this rate, they will end up forfeiting the lease.”

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council refused to confirm they had received interest in the cinema from three parties, adding:

“The council is committed to seeing the cinema up and running again and there is the option to follow up any serious alternative offers in the event that the Scala is unable to continue trading.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 29 January 2015 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Board members of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema hand back keys to council

Board members of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema hand back keys to council

Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn Scala Cinema signage (Credit Rhyl Journal)

Denbighshire County Council has confirmed that the Scala Board has agreed – in principle – to hand back the building’s lease and the keys following a formal request from the Council’s legal representatives.

The Council has now said that is now in a position to be able to seek serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to re-open the venue as soon as practically possible.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Youth and Leisure, said:

“While I am saddened to see the end of the Scala in its present form, it was in the present Scala Board’s hands to end this uncertainty, which they have decided to do.”

“Now, we need to start looking forward to a bright new future for the venue and I can assure residents that we will now move forward and we are keen to hear from experienced operators with a clear commercial approach but who will run the cinema as a key community asset.”

“The Council has received a number of expressions of interest and commented that they will “need to consider these through the correct processes” and that they are “keen to offer the opportunity to as wide a field as possible in order to find the right operator”.

Councillor Huw Jones added:

“The Council has maintained its strong commitment and support for the venue as we recognise the value to the town’s economy and regeneration of the High Street.”

“We want to secure the future of the Scala. We have a strong and clear track record of turning around the fortunes of failing facilities and we are very confident because of the numbers of expressions of interest we’ve already received – we are pleased that we’re now able to now formalise the process for receiving and evaluating those proposals.”

“This should offer the people of Prestatyn and the wider county confidence that Denbighshire means business when it comes to securing a far brighter future for the Scala.”

“The Council’s priority is to put its efforts into working with an appropriate operator. It’s time to draw a line and start in earnest to plan for the future”.

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 29 January 2015 | Published by: Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Former cinema owner offers to take on the Scala

A FORMER picture house owner has offered to help or take on Prestatyn’s Scala cinema if the current trust cannot re-open it.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, said he was mindful that trust members were looking to put together a rescue campaign, but explained he was keen to help run the venue or rent the cinema if it became available.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, has offered to help or take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre. (Photo credit Geoff Abott via Rhyl Journal)
Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema, has offered to help or take on the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre. (Photo credit Geoff Abott via Rhyl Journal)

Mr Harris, aged 75, attended the Scala Cinema and Arts Centres open meeting at the Beaches Hotel with his son Anthony Harris last Friday.

The meeting was held to discuss fundraising ideas following the closure of the venue on Thursday, January 8.

Mr Harris, who has 60 years of experience in the cinema trade, said that the meeting was attended by more than 100 people on Friday.

He said that he was given permission by Scala volunteers, hosting the meeting, to speak to the audience and received a standing ovation.

There was a lot of questions and a lot left unanswered – I feel there is something in the wind,” Mr Harris commented.

“The main question was how the hell had the cinema got itself into this financial situation? After I approached those who chaired the meeting and spoke to the audience, the volunteers from the Scala made a plea to me – don’t leave us.”

“I am more than experienced having been in the cinema trade most of my working life. My son, who is aged 46, is the same. I am happy to help in running the venue or to take it off their hands. I’ve written to the council and I’ve had a phone call to say that I should expect a letter in the post. I know films inside and out. I would look at booking Big Hero 6, Shaun the Sheep movie and Fifty Shades of Grey. I would like to have a tour of the building and the chance to speak with Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the Scala Trust. I can sort the Scala out.”

A spokesperson for Denbighshire County Council confirmed that they had received a letter from Mr Harris.

She said: “The council is committed to seeing the cinema up and running again and there is the option to follow up any serious alternative offers in the event that the Scala is unable to continue trading.”

Chair of Scala welcomes pledges

THE chair of the Scala Trust has welcomed pledges of support following a fundraising meeting.

More than a 100 people attended the open gathering at the Beaches Hotel in Prestatyn last Friday to discuss ideas to re-open the Scala Cinema and Art Centre which closed earlier this month.

Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the trust, expressed that she was pleased that people were becoming more aware of the situation. A campaign titled Let’s Get the Doors Open has been softly launched.

Ms Hughes, said: “The Scala is a small charity and yet we had so many people turn out. It is like a steering committee. I was unable to attend as another meeting cropped up regarding finance. I was tempted to re-organise Fridays meeting, but everything was in place.”

“It made sense for the volunteers to host it since it was for the supporters of the Scala, but I will 100 per cent be at the next meeting. We haven’t got a date yet but its in the process of being arranged. The night turned into a discussion and ideas were generated such as sponsor a seat. People have questions and I am doing my best to answer them and putting what information I can on the Scala’s windows and on Facebook.”

Source: Rhyl Journal article 21.01.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Daily Post: Scala Trust ‘now more aware of what the community wants’

More than 100 people attended a meeting held in a last-ditch effort to save a crisis-hit cinema.

Chris Bond, general manager of Scala Cinema, Prestatyn, which could be forced to close (Credit: Daily Post Arwyn Roberts)
Chris Bond, general manager of Scala Cinema, Prestatyn, which could be forced to close (Credit: Daily Post Arwyn Roberts)

The meeting had been called to help try to secure the future of the Scala in Prestatyn, which closed nearly two weeks ago after months of uncertainty regarding its future.

The trust which ran the cinema says it is now more aware of what the community wants and is delighted with the support shown to the Scala.

Rhiannon Hughes from the Scala Trust said the campaign to save the cinema felt like starting all over again.

She said: “When we opened six years ago, it was an unknown, as the Scala was the first all-digital arts centre.”

“There was no template to work from, but now we have six years experience and are more aware of what the community wants.”

“Most of the activities which have developed at the Scala have been as a direct result of requests by the community. Since we opened, digital technology and the opportunities it provides have been transformed.”

The trust say a new community steering committee will be formed as a result of the meeting.

They are also appealing for people to sponsor seats in the theatre, with sponsorships leaflets available from shops on Prestatyn’s high street.

Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, who attended Friday’s meeting, said:

“I am fully supportive of the campaign to see the Scala reopen. It has always been a fantastic arts venue for all the people of North Denbighshire to make use of.”

Ms Hughes said:

“I am delighted with the interest and support shown for the future of the Scala.”

“Trustees and Scala volunteers are all working hard to get the funding to reopen the venue. In the meantime, we welcome the opportunity for the community to get more involved and move the Scala forward.”

At the time of closing, Prestatyn’s Scala had outstanding debts of around £180,000.

Denbighshire County Council were owed around £140,000, with the remaining £40,000 owed to other creditors.

The Scala Trust say they took the decision to close the doors in early January in order to keep control of the building. They hope to be able to reopen the cinema and arts centre on a more stable financial footing.

Source: Daily Post Article 19.01.15 by Josh Morris

Rhyl Journal: Closed Prestatyn Scala Cinema looks for lifeline

“Down but not out” is the message from supporters of a Prestatyn Cinema which closed its doors last week.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit: Rhyl Journal)

The Scala Cinema and Arts Centre closed last Thursday. Trust members confirmed that the doors will remain shut whilst a final rescue campaign was conducted but hit out at suggestions that the “Scala Trust has ceased trading”.

Fears over the future of the cinema surfaced in October after Denbighshire County Council said it would be looking to end the cinema’s yearly £41,000 subsidy from April.

Further problems surfaced when it was revealed the Scala was late with its November wages payment – putting the cinema three months in arrears.

Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the Scala Trust, said that the cinema was committed to reopening and described the temporary closure as“awfully sad”.

She said: “The trust is still in control of the building. We aim to work with the community to hopefully re-open the Scala in a few weeks time. We hope that the closure will make people more aware that we do need help. Urgent assistance is required. The building has been flooded already with people getting upset – the Scala is a massive part of the community.”

Chris Bond, former general manager of the Scala, commented that the cinema’s long term future looked “very uncertain”.

A few “trusted members of the community” were given a talk and tour round the Scala last Wednesday night prior to the closure, but were not understood to believe that the cinema would be shutting its doors the following day.

Prestatyn residents reacted to the closure of the Cinema on Facebook with many deeming the situation a “terrible shame”.

Lee Howard, of Prestatyn, said: “I must question the operation, I have called and even popped in personally to ask about hiring rooms for a film screening. I never got a call back.”

Cath Jones said:

“How has this happened? It is directly next to a really busy retail park, with free parking, food and cash points.”

“The Scala is the best cinema in the area and needs to be better utilised,” said Liam Curry of Prestatyn whilst Chris Powell Jones added: “Surely the money that is being spent to tart up The Nova would have been better spent on the Scala?”

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“If it turns out that the Scala Board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider.”

Scala supporters are invited to a meeting at the Beaches Hotel on January, Friday 16, between 7pm and 8.30pm. The meeting is being held to aid with the soon to be launched community campaign.

DCC: Statement on the Scala

Denbighshire County Council has been made aware of the decision by the Board of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre to close its doors to the public.

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Leisure and Youth, said: “We understand that efforts by the Board to secure a rescue package have been unsuccessful to date and that they are now making one final attempt at finding money to cover their debts.

“While this is sad news for the current company, the Council remains committed to the continuation of a cinema in Prestatyn, as we recognise its importance to the people of Prestatyn and its contribution to the local economy.

“Over recent years the Council has provided extensive support to the Scala company. Yet, despite this, their financial position has continued to deteriorate.

“The on-going uncertainty of the future of the company running the Scala has been of great cause for concern for some time and it looks as if the doors may be closed for a while. My worry is that this uncertainty may be damaging for the future planning for the cinema.

“If it turns out that the Scala Board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider”.

Source: Statement posted via Denbighshire County Council website 08.01.15

Rhyl Journal: Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema closes its doors but puts hope in new campaign

A PRESTATYN community cinema has shut its doors. 

A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.
A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.

Trust members of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre confirmed that the venue closed this morning (Thursday) and will only re-open if funds are found.

Fears over the future of the cinema surfaced in October after Denbighshire County Council said it would be looking to end the cinema’s yearly £41,000 grant in April.

Further problems surfaced when it was revealed that the Scala was late with its November wages payment – putting the cinema three months in arrears.

Trust members have said that they intend to launch a final campaign to save the resource next week – more details are set to be revealed soon.

Trust Members have said that they “would be grateful to hear from local businesses or individuals who recognise its value and potential and are interested in becoming involved and associated with this respected venue.”

Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Trust, said: “It is awfully sad. The building has been flooded already with people getting upset – the Scala is a massive part of the community.

“We haven’t given up hope though. The Trust had to close the Cinema and it will remain closed for now but we will be launching a final campaign next week and will aim to get the doors re-opened if we can.

“Now we have had to close the Cinema we hope that people will be more aware that we do need help. The Scala Trust is committed to re opening the Scala if at all possible but cannot do this on its own. Urgent assistance is required.

“I would like to thank the small team of staff who have worked so hard not only with the public but all the behind the scenes and the many unpaid hours worked to make the venue a success.

“I would also like to thank the many volunteers who have supported the staff in making this wonderful venue such a welcoming and friendly place to visit.”

Chris Bond, general manager, added:

“We would like to apologise to all our customers and community groups who will be inconvenienced by this closure. ”

“Whilst we are doing everything we can to secure the Scala’s long term future, this now looks very uncertain. We are all very proud of what has been achieved to date and sincerely hope this will be allowed to continue.”

The Scala opened in February 2009 with a remit from the Council for delivering an educational and community programme as well as being a cinema.

In a statement, councillor Paul Penlington said:

“We are meeting with county officers as a matter of urgency to find a way to open the Scala again as soon as possible.”

“Our town and county Councilors have worked hard to ensure other important facilities in Prestatyn are re-furbished and opened again so hopefully we can do it once more and find a way to keep a long standing landmark at the heart of our community that won’t place any additional financial burdens on our ratepayers.”

Councillor Huw Jones, Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism, Leisure and Youth, said:

“We understand that efforts by the Board to secure a rescue package have been unsuccessful to date and that they are now making one final attempt at finding money to cover their debts.”

“While this is sad news for the current company, the Council remains committed to the continuation of a cinema in Prestatyn, as we recognise its importance to the people of Prestatyn and its contribution to the local economy.”

“The on-going uncertainty of the future of the company running the Scala has been of great cause for concern for some time and it looks as if the doors may be closed for a while. My worry is that this uncertainty may be damaging for the future planning for the cinema.”

“If it turns out that the Scala Board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 08.01.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Daily Post: Prestatyn Scala’s business plan ‘was wrong from start’

Chair of trust says cinema was never properly funded, but hopes to reopen with Welsh Government support.

Scala Cinema, Prestatyn
Scala Cinema, Prestatyn (Credit: Daily Post)

The business plan behind the crisis-hit Scala cinema was wrong from the start, says a former board member.

The business plan behind the crisis-hit Scala cinema was wrong from the start, says a former board member.

As the Prestatyn cinema closed today amid “desperate” cash problems, Cllr Huw Jones, who is also Denbighshire’s lead member for tourism, leisure and youth, said those running the venue had failed to “capture the market”.

But the chair of the Scala says the centre never had sufficient financial support to get started, and hopes to have the doors open with Welsh Government help by the end of the month.

Supporters of the Scala made a last-ditch plea for help today in a “final attempt” to save it. The Scala Trust was told in October that it would be losing its funding from Denbighshire council this year.

Cllr Jones said: “I used to be on the Scala board years ago to try and help them turn things around, and when it was first opened I don’t think their business plan was right then.

“The people of Prestatyn have ben very supportive of it, but they haven’t captured the market right.

“It’s a very valuable asset to the town, and we are committed as Denbighshire County Council to keeping the place open.”

While the Scala Trust hope to continue running the cinema, Cllr Jones says the council is already looking at a possible future for the centre without the existing trust.

He said: “We bent over backwards to try to help them, but the business plan didn’t quite work out, did it?

“We’re pursuing other avenues to keep the provision open in Prestatyn.

“They’re still working on a rescue plan and hopefully that might work out, but it’s a bit of a sad situation.

“The ongoing uncertainty of the future of the company running the Scala has been of great cause for concern for some time, and it looks as if the doors may be closed for a while.

“My worry is that this uncertainty may be damaging for the future planning for the cinema.

“If it turns out that the Scala board’s final rescue attempt is unsuccessful, we will do our best to find an alternative provider.”

Rhiannon Wyn Hughes, who chairs the Scala Trust, said: “It’s never been properly funded since the building was built.

“Places need a bit of support at the beginning and that hasn’t been there. We’ve brought in a lot of funding, but it hasn’t been enough.

“We’ve made staff redundant this morning. There were only five left, but it’s very upsetting. They’ve all really committed to the place. There have been a lot of tears.

“We’ve closed the door, but that means the trust is still in control of the building, so we’ll spend two to three weeks trying to put together a financial package.

“We want to clear a lot of creditors and start with some money in the bank, which we haven’t really had before.

“We want to stop lurching from crisis to crisis, which we have done for the last six years. That’s not a way to run a business.”

Denbighshire County Council have loaned the Scala £80,000 on a long-term basis, given them a grant of £40,000 each year, and covered their wage bill for two months, although the grant was set to be withdrawn in April.

Ms Hughes said: “The council have taken all our money away, but the Welsh Government have been great. They’ve been working with us, and we’ve welcomed their support.

“We want to clear our debt to the council. We owe them this loan which we have five years to pay.

“The council have a lot to lose if we don’t reopen. £140,000 is a lot of public money, which is why we feel so strongly about reopening.

“There’s also £40,000 outstanding to other creditors, and we’ve tried to make sure individual traders are paid.”

Source: Daily Post News Article 08.01.15 by Josh Morris

BBC News Wales: Scala Cinema shuts doors amid uncertain future

A cinema and arts centre in Denbighshire has closed its doors and may not reopen unless funds are found to secure its future.

The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors in 2009 after closing in 2000. (Credit BBC)
The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors in 2009 after closing in 2000. (Credit BBC)

Last month bosses at the Scala in Prestatyn learned they would lose a £40,000 subsidy from next April.

It marked the end of a difficult year in which visitors numbers fell due to the summer weather and staff were cut.

The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors in 2009 after closing in 2000.

“Urgent assistance is required,” said Rhiannon Hughes, chair of the Scala Trust which helps to run the venue.

She said funding the running costs has always been an issue since it reopened six years with Denbighshire council as the building’s owner.

Five staff have been made redundant.

Scala supporters held a protest in December before the council cutbacks (Credit: BBC News)
Scala supporters held a protest in December before the council cutbacks (Credit: BBC News)

Councillor Huw Jones, cabinet lead member for tourism, leisure and youth, said the council was committed to keeping a cinema in the town and had repeatedly tried to help the trust.

Pressure mounted on the Scala in October when it struggled to meet a £20,000 credit agreement with the county council to cover staff wages.

It also gave the Scala a loan of £86,000 in 2010 without setting a repayment date.

In December, Denbighshire councillors agreed to £17m in funding cuts affecting council services and subsidies paid to groups, including the venue.

Source: BBC Wales News Article 08.01.15