BBC News: Vitally important Scala cinema reopens by Easter

It is “vitally important” a Denbighshire cinema is reopened by Easter, town councillors have said.

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)

Prestatyn Town Council are repaying a £1m loan which they took out in 2007 to help refurbish Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.

But after the cinema closed in January, the council said residents were seeing no return “for their money”.

Around £66,000 a year goes toward repaying the loan, but it has no assets or security against it.

It is set to repay the loan over 25 years – whether the building, which is owned by Denbighshire council, is open or not.

Deputy Chairman of Prestatyn council, Bob Paterson, said: “It is extremely important that this facility is functioning.

“As a town council, to see any return on that loan that we are paying back, those doors have got to be open, people have got to be walking into and using the Scala.”

Source: BBC News Article 20.02.15

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

 

BBC News: Prestatyn’s Scala set to lose council cash help

The future of a cinema and arts centre in Denbighshire remains uncertain after council officials said they could no longer continue to cover the company’s £20,000 monthly wage bill.

The Scala in Prestatyn owes £60,000 to Denbighshire council as it has missed three months of payments.

The authority said it is considering ending the payroll agreement to stop putting “at risk large sums of public money”.

Cinema bosses have refused to comment.

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

A photo of the Prestatyn Scala 2009.
The Scala was given a £3.5m facelift when it reopened its doors 2009 (Credit: BBC news)

Last week, general manager Chris Bond said takings had been hit as the good summer weather kept people away.

The venue’s trust board has been seeking specialist financial advice about how to change its fortunes.

Under a credit agreement with the county council, the authority pays the venue’s wages and the venue repays that money to the council. It is those payments which are now three months in arrears.

However, in 2010 the council gave the cinema and arts venue an £86,000 bail-out loan to cover a deficit and has yet to request repayment.

“The council can simply not continue to put at risk large sums of public money to underpin the Scala’s financial deficit,” said Rebecca Maxwell, Denbighshire council’s corporate director economic and community ambition.

Councillor Huw Jones, Denbighshire’s cabinet lead member for leisure, said:

“Despite all our efforts to support the Scala company, it appears to find itself in an unsustainable financial situation.”

He said the authority has been “fully supportive of the Scala as an arts and cinema facility for the local community for many years” by helping with the payroll, providing a subsidy, assisting with marketing the venue and having a senior council member sit on the venue’s board of trustees.”

“We have asked time and time again for information from the board as to how they were going to address their financial situation and the kind of reassurances we expected have not been forthcoming,” he said.

Source: BBC News article 04.11.14

BBC: Scala in Prestatyn Agrees to make 40K savings

Scala in Prestatyn agrees to make £40k savings

A cinema and arts centre in Denbighshire that reopened less than two years ago is pledging to cut £40,000 in costs this financial year. The Scala in Prestatyn was given a £3.5m facelift when it opened its doors again after closing in 2000. The board of the venue stressed there was no threat to the future of the centre. It follows an £86,000 rescue package agreed for the Scala in May by Denbighshire council. The board of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, Rhiannon Hughes, said savings would be made in areas such as energy costs and bringing other services “in-house”.

‘Difficult period’

She said the number of people using the venue was increasing, up 13% on the same period last year.

“We’ve only been open 18 months so we’ve learnt what sort of films the public want – we know what people are wanting from the venue,” said Mrs Hughes, who is also a member of Denbighshire council, and its former leader.

She said that the venue had been through a “very, very difficult period”. The Scala board said that a decision to delay a neighbouring retail development by 18 months had a knock-on effect on the centre, and that initial costs of setting up the venue had “not been factored in” to the original business plan. Mrs Hughes said the centre now hoped to increase turnover, alongside more live performances and more use of the venue’s conference facilities.

Source: BBC News Website

BBC: Big screen flickers back to life

A 90-year-old cinema is reopening its doors after a long-running community campaign.

The Scala in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, was forced to close in December 2000 under the weight of repair bills.

But its screens will come to life again on Friday, after £3.5m was spent turning it into an arts centre.

Among those attending the celebrations will be Pat Smith, who has waited eight years to use cinema tickets she won in a raffle.

“My granddaughter came home from school with some raffle tickets, which I bought. I won two tickets to admit me into the Scala cinema,” explained Mrs Smith.

“She kept saying to me ‘when are we going to the cinema – when will we go?’ and she is still waiting.”

Her original tickets were valid until 2001, but the theatre shut its doors before she had chance to use them.

Her granddaughter is now 16, but on this special occasion the new cinema says it will honour the old tickets.

The original Scala first opened in 1913, after taking over the town hall in Prestatyn and could hold 400 people in its 1940s heydays.

The new arts complex boasts two digital film screen theatres, each seating 150 people, an IT media centre, a cafe and bar.

‘Wow’ factor

The success of the project is also a tribute to dedicated members of the Prestatyn community who refused to accept that the Scala would stay shut.

“When they threatened the fact that it was going to be disposed of, the people of the town were in uproar,” recalled Sandra Pitt, chairperson of Friends of Scala.

“We decided to set up a small group to get it back, which is what we have done.

“We thought they would just do up the old cinema and we would have it safe again.

“But now we’ve got the ‘wow’ factor. It’s not just a cinema and theatre, there’s the IT media room, the cafe bar – it’s a fantastic facility for such a small town.

“We never even dreamt of having this.”

Pat Smith will finally get to use her eight-year old Scala tickets on Friday
Pat Smith will finally get to use her eight-year old Scala tickets on Friday

The whole project has been funded by the assembly government, the Arts Council for Wales, the Foundation for Sports and the Arts, the UK Film Council, and both the town and county council.

On Friday’s opening night, the cinema has decided to show the Oscar-nominated Disney animation Bolt, and it will also be showing the award-winning Slumdog Millionaire in its first week.

Of course, one of the first in the queue will be Mrs Smith, who is delighted to finally use her tickets won in the raffle.

“To see it close was devastating, and to see it open will be nice. People have fought hard to get it open, and we need to use it,” she added.

Source: View the original article with video interview at the BBC News website.

BBC: £1.5 Million Boost For Scala Project

Prestatyn Scala Nov 2005
The Scala opened as a cinema in 1913 but closed in 2000

Reopening hopes for old cinema

The curtain is expected to rise again at one of the oldest cinemas in Wales.

Supporters of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema hope it will be returned to its former glory after it closed in 2000.
Their long-running campaign has been boosted by a £1.5m grant by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Supporter Sandra Pitt wants to see the cinema, which was originally built as a town hall in 1898, showing films again within two years.

“It was such a loss in the town and it was really missed.”

Sandra Pitt, campaigner

Mrs Pitt said: “It’s wonderful news. It’s been a hard slog and we’ve been fighting for this for five years.

“It will be a mega party on the day that it opens again – the town needs it.

“It was just the hub of the community – if you were meeting someone you met outside the Scala.”

Mrs Pitt, chair of the Friends of Scala, said she hoped it would still be a friendly place.

GRANTS BREAKDOWN

  • £1.6m – Pembrokeshire, national park conservation and Haverfordwest town centre improvements
  • £1.5m – Blaenavon, town centre open spaces
  • £1.5 – Prestatyn, Scala cinema/arts project
  • £1.3m – Llanelli, Bridge St pedestrianisation
  • £1.1m – Bridgend, Market St and Betws improvements
  • £1.1m – Flintshire cycling/pedestrian scheme at Castle Park industrial estate
  • £1m – Aberavon carpark renovation
  • £1m – Barry town centre improvements
  • £1m – Newport, industrial estates access
  • £950,000 – Gwynedd council community projects
  • £526,000 – Wrexham, Gwersyllt community resource centre
  • £241,000 – Llangefni, road, transport improvements
  • £220,000 – Abertillery, new car park

“It was such a loss in the town and it was really missed,” she added.

The Scala showed silent films before World War I but finally closed due to structural problems in December 2000.

One of the first films to be shown at the Scala was the epic of its time – All Quiet on the Western Front.

The assembly government is offering Denbighshire Council the grant.

The total cost of the regeneration scheme is estimated to be around £3.5m but Mrs Pitt said the group is well on their way to achieving the target.

She added: “We hope Denbighshire Council will find some money and the friends need to raise around £100,000.”

The plans include a twin-screen cinema, a cafe bar and space for theatre and dances.

The Scala was converted into a cinema in 1913 by cinematography pioneer James Roberts – who was known as Saronie – and screened its first “talkie” in March 1930. The refurbishment will see London-based architects Burrell Foley Fischer working on the designs. The Scala is one of 13 projects receiving a total of £13m from the Physical Regeneration Fund. Other projects include money for Bridgend Council for traffic works and money to Blaenau Gwent to improve disabled facilities.

Source: BBC News Article