Daily Post: New dawn for Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema and Arts Centre

The complex, which will create around 20 new jobs, will reopen as a community cinema under a new leaseholder this week

A new curtain will mark a new dawn when a community cinema reopens later this week.

The Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn will be transformed into a “hub for the benefit of the community” with the creation of up to 20 new jobs.

Its delayed unveiling, set to take place on Friday, follows issues with paperwork and updating old equipment.

But the High Street complex is almost ready to impress with the introduction of Sony’s latest Digital Cinema 4K projectors and a new satellite for streaming live events.

Rob Arthur, the lease holder of the Prestatyn Scala cinema (Credit: Daily Post)
Rob Arthur, the lease holder of the Prestatyn Scala cinema (Credit: Daily Post)

New leaseholder, Rob Arthur from Aurora Leisure Ltd said his company’s takeover will mark a “new dawn” for the attraction, which suffered a tarnished past before closing down in January.

Today he engaged with members of the community during a series of public events to find out what people want from their cinema.

He revealed the venue will re-open “gradually from the bottom up” – starting with the box office and screens – while ideas for some of the other facilities are thrashed out.

He said: “Our intention is to ensure the Scala is a welcoming, vibrant and exciting addition to the High Street and is there to serve the community, providing exactly the kinds of entertainment and facilities for as many groups as possible. That is why we want to hold these public meetings so that we start off on the right foot from the word go.”

The Scala, which offers two 150-seat auditoria, live performance space, dining and conference facilities and a media suite, will become “more like a traditional cinema” with reasonably priced tickets and packages for families, pensioners and children.

The image quality will be four times better than the previous projection equipment and will also enable 3D and the booking of live events.

There are also plans for a film festival later this year and local projects will be showcased at the start of film screenings.

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post March 2015)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post March 2015)

“It’s an absolute travesty that the Scala was closed but already, we’ve provided £125,000 of immediate investment and have allocated capital where we think it is needed,” said Mr Arthur, who has a prominent theatre-led background.

“We want to create something more engaging, different to what we already have here in the town.”

“It will probably take between six and nine months to get everything finished (upstairs cafe, bar, conference facilities) how we want them to be but we want to get it right.”

The 115-year-old building, which started life as a town hall, was saved from the scrapheap by passionate community campaigners, calling for it to be restored to its former glory after structural issues forced it to close in 2000.

In 2007, its future was safeguarded by what became the Friends of Scala group.

But the venue hit turbulent times and had outstanding debts of around £180,000 by the time it closed in January.

Cllr Bob Paterson, Mayor of Prestatyn Town Council, said: “The Scala is one of the most iconic cinemas in Wales and one of the main focal points on Prestatyn’s high street – we are looking forward to it reopening and welcome the work that Rob is doing to engage with the community. The Scala will become a central part of our town’s vibrant events’ programme so we are delighted it is in such good hands.”

Source: Daily Post news article 01.07.15 by Kelly Williams | Video courtesy of Daily Post

Daily Post: Prestatyn’s Scala cinema set to reopen under new management

Scottish company Aurora Leisure named as preferred bidder to take over cinema, which closed in January after a long battle to try to save it

Prestatyn's Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post - March 2015)
Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema (Credit Daily Post – March 2015)

A cinema closed in January after a long battle to try to save it is set to reopen under new management.

Denbighshire council has picked a preferred bidder to take over Prestatyn’s Scala, which closed last month amid a cash crisis.

Scottish company Aurora Leisure, which has experience of running community cinemas, could reopen the Scala as soon as April.

James Davies, councillor for Prestatyn East and Conservative candidate for Clwyd West, said: “It’s very good news because the Scala is a much valued community facility and the community, including myself, worked hard to get it built.

“We all know that it can be a success and, with a good business model operating, I’m convinced it will provide the cinema and arts facilities we all want.

“We’re all desperate for it to reopen as soon as possible.

“Aurora Leisure have a network of community cinemas, which is key.”

Rob Arthur, who runs Aurora Leisure and was previously managing director of Apollo Cinemas, has extensive experience in Taiwan, Portugal, Romania, the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Cllr Huw Jones, Denbighshire’s cabinet member for tourism and leisure, said: “I am really pleased to welcome Aurora Leisure Ltd, under the expert guidance of Rob Arthur, to our county and more specifically to the Scala.

“The company has a proven track record of turning around the fortunes of struggling community cinemas, and of providing exactly the community focussed facility we want to see coming here and thriving for the residents of Prestatyn and visitors from further afield.”

Aurora Leisure Ltd reopened a cinema in Thurso – the UK mainland’s most northerly town – after a successful community campaign to support the development of digital cinema.

It runs the cinema as well as conferences, community events, a bar and a kitchen, and has won several awards.

Aurora is also set to reopen one of the UK’s oldest cinemas, the Picture House in Campbelltown, which first opened in 1913.

Source: Daily Post News Article 05.03.15 by Josh Morris

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

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

Daily Post: Prestatyn Scala cinema to close today

Campaigners say they are still committed to reopening the digital cinema and arts centre.

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

A last-ditch plea for help was made by supporters of a cinema who have had to shut it from today.

The final curtain is being drawn at the Scala cinema in Prestatyn by the Scala Trust who have made a final attempt to save it.

The Scala closed in 2000 but re-opened in February 2009 after a £3.5m facelift as Wales first all digital cinema and arts centre iand was a project to help regenerate Prestatyn.

It succeeded in bringing in between 80,000 and 100,000 people through its doors and on to Prestatyn High Street each year.

Trust chair Rhiannon Hughes the Scala was in desperate need of cash to restructure and appealed to local businesses or individuals to get involved to re-open it.

Mrs Hughes said: “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.”

It received funding from Denbighshire County Council with a remit to deliver an educational and community programme as well as being a cinema.

This was recognised when the Scala won the prestigious Royal Institute Chartered Surveyors (RICS) International award for its community work bringing this award to Wales for the first time.

The Trust was told in October last year that it would be losing its funding from Denbighshire council this year.

As well as working at a local community level the Scala has delivered national programmes and worked internationally with young film makers and film providers world-wide.

General manager Chris Bond said: “We would like to apologise to all our customers and community groups who will be inconvenienced by this closure. While 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.”

Source: Daily Post News Article 08.01.15 by Hywel Trewyn. Video courtesy of Daily Post.

Daily Post: Scala Cinema looks to Welsh Government for salvation

Closure threatened Prestatyn arts centre hopeful that ministers could save it from the axe

A crisis hit arts centre is looking to the Welsh Government to save it from closure.

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

A statement from Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema trustees said:

“The Scala is in touch with the Assembly working with Ann Jones AM who has been speaking with ministers and civil servants who have responded positively.”

“The Assembly was the biggest contributor to the Scala building which was then seen as an important first step to the town’s recovery and regeneration.”

The people of Prestatyn have come out in support of Scala cinema after it was revealed it could close last month.

The beleaguered cinema and arts centre is under threat due to a loss of council funding. A desperate Save Our Scala appeal was launched to raise the £97,000 reportedly needed to keep the centre open in the long term with renowned celebrities also calling on the venue to be saved.

The Scala have also said this week that they will be “meeting various agencies and potential sponsors this week.

Source: Daily Post News Article 18.11.14 by Alex Hickley. Videos courtesy of Daily Post

Daily Post: Denbighshire Council says it can longer afford to pay Scala cinema’s wage bill without discussions

Management accused of keeping authority in dark over its financial position which it owes £60,000 in wage debts and £80,000 one-off loan.

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

Council chiefs say they could stop paying a troubled cinemas wage bill if the management doesn’t discuss its financial position with them.

Denbighshire County Council says the Scala cinema and arts centre in Prestatyn owes the authority £60,000 in wage debts, as well as £80,000 of a one-off loan.

At present, the council administers the Scala’s payroll, and also provides them with two months leeway on their payroll payments, which amount to £20,000 a month. But the council says it cant continue to make up the shortfall if they don’t sit down to talk.

Councillor Huw Jones, cabinet lead member for leisure, said:

“Its very difficult, they’ve had meetings, but the only things I know about it I read in the Daily Post. Its frightening to be honest with you, because if we know the situation they’re in, why cant they ask what we can do, how we can help? At the end of the day, they’ve gone three months. I’m responsible for public money as a councillor, but surely, the third month will turn into the fourth month. What do I do next? Am I going to be the scrooge and say no? Because there’s Christmas coming, and we wont pay their wages, or will I breach my own rules? Unless they come back and explain the situation to us, we’re really in a quandary.”

The council owns the Scala building, but the centre is operated by a separate charitable organisation.

The organisations general manager Chris Bond was approached for comment but declined to do so.

Rebecca Maxwell, Denbighshire’s corporate director for economic and community ambition, said:

“The council cannot continue to put at risk large sums of money to underpin the Scala’s financial deficit. Clearly there’s a limit to how much we can continue to support an independent organisation and still provide best value for residents. We value the facility, but we cant afford to subsidise the company.”

Source: Daily Post 04.11.14 18:03 News article by Josh Harris

Daily Post: Singer Mike Peters and Hollywood director Sara Sugarman give their backing to campaign to save the Scala cinema

Stars of music and film have given their backing to the campaign to save a beleaguered arts centre.

Watch a video of cinema manager Chris Bond urging people to save the arts centre and keep its vital funding:-

Mike Peters, the Prestatyn-born frontman of The Alarm, and Sara Sugarman, the Rhyl-born Hollywood director, have pledged their support for the Scala in Prestatyn, which announced this week that it could close within days if £20,000 is not found to pay staff wages.

Amid concern that a cut in council funding next year could also jeopardise the long-term future of the Scala, general manager Chris Bond has denied that the centre is a “white elephant” and says he aims to run the Scala without depending on grants.

Mike, who premiered the film he made with Sara at the Scala in 2013, said it would be a “tragedy” if the centre closed.

He said: “I’ve always loved going to the Scala as it holds special memories for me. It’s a place where imaginations are nurtured, inspired and developed.

“I played a gig there myself back in 1979, which was a watershed moment in my awakening as a musician.

“The Scala and their team were so helpful to Sara Sugarman and myself when we wanted to see how our film ‘Vinyl’ was looking in the early stages of development.

“The finished film benefitted so much from the production team seeing how it looked on a proper screen.

“The night we held a premiere for ‘Vinyl’ was a very special event, and wouldn’t have happened in the more corporate cinema chains.

“It would be a great shame and a tragedy for Prestatyn if the Scala were to fold.”

Sara said: “I really hope the Scala is kept open. It has been a hub for the community and it welcomed me as a local film maker. The arts are the soul of a nation – don’t let our nation lose its soul. Keep the Scala open!”

Although Mr Bond said the Scala has been “inundated” with support this week, he also answered some of the criticism from local people who said the centre should support itself and not rely on subsidy.

Mr Bond said: “The Scala is not a white elephant and is enjoyed by between 90,000 and 100,000 people a year. The national average of film attendance has dropped by over 10%, but the Scala’s attendances have had a small increase.

“The Scala cannot take too many risks with its programme, but is always trying new things. We are not asking the taxpayer to bail it out. The Scala has one of the smallest grants in Denbighshire for a cultural venue, and no other venue is getting its grant cut by 100%. The Scala is just asking for the same percentage cut as the other venues are receiving. It is the Scala’s aim to run without grants.”

A meeting of the Scala’s board of trustees will be held on Monday to discuss the centre’s future. A public meeting will then be held on Friday at 6pm at a venue which is yet to be decided.

Source (View the original article and videos): Daily Post Article 31.10.14 1641 By Rhodri Barker

Daily Post: Prestatyn residents have their say on Scala future

People give their views on the funding cut threatening the future of the Scala cinema in Prestatyn

The people of Prestatyn have come out in support of Scala cinema after it was revealed it could close in a matter of days.

Earlier this week it was revealed the beleaguered cinema and arts centre could be forced to shut early next week due to a loss of council funding unless tens of thousands of pounds were found.

A desperate Save Our Scala appeal was launched to raise the £97,000 reportedly needed to keep the centre open in the long term with renowned celebrities also calling on the venue to be saved.

The video above shows the support for the centre from people on the high street with one patron calling the potential closure as ‘disgusting’.

Speaking on the video, Robert Guntrip, who has used the cinema for ‘many years’ said:

“I think it would be disgusting (to close the Scala) because if you didn’t have the cinema here people would have to spend more on the buses to go to Rhyl or other places like that.”

Meanwhile Alex Clewett, who visits the cinema regularly with his wife and two daughters said the potential closure would be a “travesty”.

He said: “The facilities are great because they’re pretty new still and the screen and the sound is really good. I think the community need to get more behind it to try and guard against this closure which would be just dreadful.”

Source: Daily Post Article 31.10.14 17:25 by Blake Welton

Daily Post: Prestatyn councillor expelled after Scala closure rumours

A LEADING councillor has been sacked from her cabinet post over “misleading rumours” that a cinema would close.

Cllr Rhiannon Hughes is accused of making no effort to correct untrue speculation over the future of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn.

Denbighshire council leader Hugh Evans said she had undermined his position and last week removed her from her job as cabinet member for customers and communities.

Cllr Evans said: “Despite my personal and public assurance to Cllr Hughes regarding mine and the council’s commitment to the future of the Scala, she has not made any effort to correct the misleading and misinformed rumours. This has not only undermined my position, but damages the reputation of the council.”

“This is not the action I would expect from a lead member for customers and communities, or any member of the cabinet. Indeed the code of conduct requires that members do not conduct themselves in a manner which could be regarded as bringing their office or authority into disrepute.”

Cllr Hughes said she accepts Denbighshire’s decision – although she does not agree with it.

“It is very difficult. I have worked for years with the community on this project,” she said.

“I issued a joint press release with the leader but he feels I should have done more to assure the community of the future of the Scala. I cannot say things for certain unless I know exactly what the future is going to be.”

Denbighshire Council refused to make any further comment.

Fears have been growing in Prestatyn over the future of the £3.5m arts centre, which received an £86,000 bail-out in May.

The original Scala cinema opened in 1913 and closed in 2000 but following a vigorous local campaign it reopened in February 2009 as a state-of-the-art cinema and arts centre.

It is Wales’ first all-digital cinema and is able to screen live performances from the National Theatre, Royal Opera House and New York Met.

Residents of Prestatyn staged a demonstration last week as the Scala Centre’s board met to discuss savings.

Following the meeting Sandra Pitt, chair of the Friends of the Scala committee, said:

“It was decided a financial plan should be adopted which should save about £40,000 a year, which it is hoped should not impact on the Scala’s customers.”

Source: Daily Post news article