Rhyl Journal: Proposals put forward for new operator to take over lease of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema

The current tenant of a Prestatyn cinema has put forward a proposal for a new operator – just nine months after taking it on.

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

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that they are “in discussion” with the existing leaseholder about a potential new operator. Rob Arthur became the new leaseholder of the Scala Cinema last July.

The new operator – believed to be Geoff Greaves, director of Merlin Cinemas – is expected to be at the helm from Friday. Those in the cinema industry have commented that Mr Greaves has “better access to big films” – The Jungle Book is to be shown this weekend.

Mr Arthur, ex-Apollo cinema chief, has been criticised by cinema-goers for not showing “blockbusters and top films” such as Kung Fu Panda 3 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Last September, Mr Arthur reassured cinema-goers that the future of the Scala cinema was “safe” after his complex in Thurso shut its doors. Mr Arthur took over the Scottish Highlands based cinema in 2012 and had been striving to find funds to keep the business afloat. The new operators of the complex in Thurso is Merlin Cinemas.

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“We are in discussion with the existing leaseholder about a potential new operator for the Scala and we are pleased with how the discussions are progressing.”

“Whilst we are the landlord, we have a strong interest in the Scala continuing to operate as a successful cinema and important facility in Prestatyn. We are more than happy to facilitate discussions with the current operator to allow that to continue”.

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema who writes a column for Screentrade magazine, said:

“I often speak with my film rental contacts and it is common knowledge that Geoff Greaves is to have the lease transferred over to him – as soon as Friday. He has got two Disney films already lined up. He is good – just watch what he does with the Scala.”

Dr James Davies, MP for Vale of Clwyd, said:

“The Scala is now an established and important facility in Prestatyn. I am pleased that it looks set to benefit from an improved offer, including better access to big films, starting with Jungle Book this weekend.”

Attempts have been made to contact Rob Arthur.

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 12 April 2016 by Suzanne Jordan

DCC – A new era for the Scala dawns with a series of public meetings Scala

A new era for the Scala dawns with a series of public meetings Scala, 1 July, 4pm and 6pm.

New leaseholder, Rob Arthur, of Aurora Leisure Ltd, is keen to mark a new beginning for the Prestatyn venue by holding public meetings to meet the local community to find out first hand what people want to see there.

“I am delighted to say I’ve had a really warm welcome to the area and I feel it is really important that we begin this new era for the Scala with an open and honest dialogue with local people – after all, we will be the custodians of what will primarily be a hub for the benefit of the community.”

Plans to reopen the Scala are well underway and it is hoped the venue will be up and running by 3 July and as an extra special kickstart, the cinema will now boast state of the art Sony Digital Cinema 4k projectors which offer four times the image quality than the previous projection equipment and will also enable 3D and the booking of live Cinema Events.

Rob added: “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.”

Aurora Leisure Ltd was set up by Rob in 2012 and he brings with him a wealth of experience in the UK and International Cinema sector for the past 24 years. Rob was Managing Director of Apollo Cinemas, overseeing an estate of 14 cinemas and 83 screens including Rhyl until its sale in 2012, and has extensive international cinema opening and operating experience including the development of the award-winning Thurso Cinema in the Scottish Highlands.

Denbighshire’s Lead Member for Leisure and Tourism and Youth, Huw Jones, said:

“We were pleased to select Rob and Aurora Leisure Ltd as our new tenant and operator of the cinema and it has been great to work with him and learn more about his exciting plans for the venue.”

“From the start, we were committed to finding an operator and making sure the facility remained open for the community. As a Council, we have continued to invest in leisure facilities and always looking at ways to keep these important facilities open and available to the public.”

“We know it’s taken some time but with new, top of the range projection equipment now installed, I’m sure everyone will agree it’s been worth the wait and we are grateful for the support of the public.”

“Judging by his notable success with similar ventures across Scotland, we are confident we will see the same success here in the Scala, which is a key asset for Prestatyn town centre and the local economy.”

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.”

The public meetings will be held at the Scala on 1 July and will be at 4pm and 6pm.

DCC: Curtain set to rise on a bright new era for the Scala

Denbighshire and Prestatyn Town Council are delighted to announce the award winning, Aurora Leisure Ltd, as the new leaseholders of the Scala.

Aurora Leisure Ltd was established in 2012 by Rob Arthur, who has had extensive experience in the UK and International Cinema sector for the past 21 years with companies such as Vue Entertainment, SBC International Cinemas to senior executive and operational management levels.

Rob was Managing Director of Apollo Cinemas, overseeing an estate of 14 cinemas and 83 screens including Rhyl until its sale in 2012, and has extensive cinema opening and operating experience in Taiwan, Portugal, Romania, United Kingdom and Ireland as well as many other cinema and leisure development projects.

Denbighshire’s Cabinet Lead Member for Tourism and Leisure, Councillor Huw Jones, 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 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 has re-opened and established a cinema in Thurso, Scotlands most northerly mainland town after a successful community campaign to support the development of digital cinema. It now screens up to 12 films or events per week from two screens, as well as operating a Bar & Kitchen and regularly hosting conferences and community events. The business currently employs 20 members of staff and has won several awards to date, including Scottish Edge and Screen International Awards.

The intention now is to have the building open by the beginning of April with a view to being fully operational by mid May.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release 5th March 2015

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

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

DCC: DCC issue statement about Scala Rumours

Denbighshire County Council has issued a statement, refuting rumours and mis-information circulating in Prestatyn regarding the future of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.

Rumours circulating say that the Scala is to close. This information is inaccurate and misleading as there are no plans to close the Scala.

Leader of Denbighshire, Councillor Hugh Evans, said: ‘We are extremely concerned that these rumours are circulating as they are not true.

The Council is one of the Scala’s key funding partners and the authority is investing a lot of time and effort in helping the Scala to develop as a key centre for the culture, arts and community in the Prestatyn area.

The Council sees the Scala as a very important facility for both the people of Prestatyn and the county as a whole. We will continue to provide advice and assistance to the Scala, working the Board move the business forward.

The Board meeting on Tuesday evening will be looking at savings but will continue to develop the Community activities which have been proving so popular in the last few weeks. We will not be looking at stopping any of the events which the public have enjoyed since the Scala opened.

The Scala has only this last week won an International award for its Community links and we intend to continue to work with the County Council, the Town Council and the Community in developing the Venue”.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release

DCC: Second industry honour for the Scala

Denbighshire County Council has welcomed news that the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn has been awarded a prestigious environment award.

The facility was one of ten entrants in the Community Benefit category of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Wales awards held in Wrexham last week and made the final four shortlist before being announced as the category winner. Ruthin Craft Centre also made the shortlist.

The RICS Awards are internationally well established and are a high profile set of Awards within the built environment industry.

The Scala was developed by Denbighshire County Council, with support from Prestatyn Town Council, Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government. The Council also worked closely with the Friends of the Scala, led by Chair Sandra Pitt, in developing plans for the new facility and seeing them come to fruition.

Facilities at the Scala include two 150 seat digital cinemas (one permanent, one that seating can be moved to create a performance area), cafe bar, meeting rooms and exhibition space.

The RICS citation reads: “Scala is a wonderful example of dedicated people with the vision and the heart for the arts working together with public bodies to save a much loved building and see if regenerated for the benefit of the community. The owners of adjoining properties have refurbished their properties and the whole area has been economically regenerated because of the scheme.

Councillor Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Board of Trustees said:

“The Scala is a prime example of how all the agencies involved have worked together with the local community to turn around the fortunes of the building and create a facility of which local people can feel proud.

The former Scala closed in 2000 due to structural problems and the local community said they wanted to building to be restored. That work began in 2007 with the building officially opened in 2009.

To be awarded this second honour within six months is a feather in the Scala’s cap and reaffirms the fact that the building is a facility for the local community.”

Source: DCC Press Release

DCC: National recognition for Scala

The Scala Cinema and Arts Centre, Prestatyn has been honoured with a special recognition for its community based facilities.

Trustees were presented with a National Panel Special Recognition award by the Civic Trust at an awards evening held at St George’s Hall, Liverpool.

The Awards were established in 1959 and celebrate not only design excellence but also the relationship between structures, places, the environment and communities.

The Award citation for the Scala reads:

“The strength of this project is its strong community base in providing a multi-role facility whilst preserving a well regarded part of the local heritage. The state of the art form production facilities are extensively utilised by local schools and colleges. Community involvement is ongoing and the Scala is stimulating the formation of special interest groups in the community”.

The facility was developed by Denbighshire County Council, with support from Prestatyn Town Council, Arts Council of Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government. The Council also worked closely with the Friends of the Scala, led by Chair Sandra Pitt, in developing plans for the new facility and seeing them come to fruition.

Councillor Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Board of Trustees said:

“The Scala is a prime example of how all the agencies involved have worked together with the local community to turn around the fortunes of the building and create a facility of which local people can feel proud.

“The former Scala closed in 2000 due to structural problems and the local community said they wanted to building to be restored. That work began in 2007 with the building officially opened in 2009.

“To be awarded this special recognition in the Civic Trust Awards is a feather in the Scala’s cap and reaffirms the fact that the building is a facility for the local community.”

Facilities at the Scala include two 150 seat digital cinemas (one permanent, one that seating can be moved to create a performance area), cafe bar, meeting rooms and exhibition space.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release

DCC: Time capsule in cinema milestone celebration

A special time capsule will be buried to commemorate the opening of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre in Prestatyn, the first independent all-digital film cinema in Wales.

Pupils from schools in the Prestatyn area will place items of interest to them in the time capsule, which will then be buried in the grounds of the venue’s courtyard. The schools are: Ysgol y Llys, Ysgol Penmorfa, Ysgol Melyd, Bodnant Infants and Juniors, Ysgol Clawdd Offa, Ysgol Tir Morfa and Prestatyn High School.

The time capsule will be buried on Thursday, April 23 2009 at 10.45am. Councillor Joan Butterfield, the Vice Chair of Denbighshire County Council, and Councillor Anne Horobin, Mayor of Prestatyn will join in the celebrations and a commemorative plaque will be erected to mark the occasion.

Councillor Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Trustees Board, said:

“We are delighted that local schools are getting involved in this initiative and we look forward to seeing what kind of imaginative and interesting things they would like to see buried relating to modern life in 2009. We will also be including copies of local newspapers in the capsule.

Chris Bond, General Manager of the Scala, said:

“This is the latest milestone in the development of the Scala and plans are being progressed to officially open the building in June.”

The £3.5 million redevelopment of the Scala now includes two cinemas, performance space, café bar and meeting rooms. It has been funded by Denbighshire County Council, Welsh Assembly Government, Prestatyn Town Council, the Foundation for Sport and Art, the Arts Council for Wales and the UK Film Council.

Source: Denbighshire County Council Press Release