“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.
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”.
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.
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.
£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.