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

Rhyl Journal: Scala cinema welcomes 10,000 customers in two months

A cinema boss has a noticeable spring in his step after welcoming more than 10,000 customers in just over two months.

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

Aurora Leisure Ltd, run by Rob Arthur, became the new leaseholder of the Scala Cinema Theatre Cafebar in Prestatyn earlier this year.

The venue opened its doors on Friday, July 2, and, in the weeks since, visitor figures have exceeded expectations.

Mr Arthur is still in the throes of re-opening parts of the business. The Courtyard Cafe is up and running and work has started on the former Saronies bar on the first floor.

Days ago, the spirits of the ex-Apollo chief were dampened when his complex in Thurso shut its doors. Mr Arthur, who took over the Scottish Highlands based cinema in 2012, had been striving to find funds to keep the business afloat.

Thurso cinema does not form part of the Aurora Group. Thurso comes under Thurso Cinema Ltd and is separate to Aurora Leisure Ltd.

Mr Arthur, who is from Bathgate and married with two children, said: “I’ve been involved in Thurso for three years so it’s sad. The staff have worked so hard. There is every likelihood that it could open again in the future, but we couldn’t commit any longer.”

“Thurso’s closure doesn’t impact on Prestatyn. It would have had a negative impact on Prestatyn if it had belonged to Aurora. Aurora Leisure Ltd is absolutely on and it is working. Since the Scala opened, we’ve had 10,000 customers through the door. The number has exceeded our initial expectations. We haven’t made a big noise, we opened quietly and customers have become familiar with the building once more.”

Aurora Leisure took on the Scala after members of the former trust agreed to hand back their keys and lease to the council in January after efforts to save the venue failed.

A Denbighshire County Council spokesperson added: “We are happy with how well the Scala has done in its first weeks of operating and the response from the public has been extremely positive. Rob has advised us that there is no impact on the cinema from the closure of the Thurso and we will be meeting with him this week to discuss this.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 16.09.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Countdown to the reopening of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema

FINAL preparations are being made ahead of the re-opening of Prestatyn’s Scala cinema.

Rob Arthur, who runs Aurora Leisure Ltd – the new leaseholder of the venue – confirmed that his team were on target to reopen on Friday, July 3 and that a public meeting would be held “sometime” next week.

The cinema hopes to introduce 4k projectors and a new satellite for live events; equipment is set to be installed this week. A management team has been recruited and other staff will be hired.

Tickets for live events are already on sale – NT Live: Everyman on Thursday, July 16, Andre Rieu 2015 Maastricht Concert, July, Saturday 18 and the RSC: The Merchant of Venice on Wednesday, July 22.

Mr Arthur, previously the managing director of Apollo Cinemas, said: “We are working to open the cinema as quickly as possible.  We want to hold a public meeting. We have taken a lot of time with this because we need to get it right.”

Leaseholders have promised that residents and visitors to Prestatyn will see “plenty of activity” around the building this week.

A post on the Scala Cinema Prestatyn Facebook page reads: “This week we’re ramping everything up and moving from behind-the-scenes work to some real work.”

“Following the closure of the Scala, earlier in the year, key parts of the old projection equipment were removed from the cinema by the former operator. We took the decision to replace with more modern, reliable equipment that will be guaranteed and serviced by Sony over the next five years.”

“We will not be opening every part of the Scala initially, as we think it is important to meet and discuss the options for the future with the public before making definite plans.”

Councillor Paul Penlington, Prestatyn North, expressed he was pleased to hear about the imminent re-opening of the Scala.

“It has been a concerning few months but we’re very fortunate to have a state of the art facility on our high street during difficult economic times,” he said.

“My colleagues and I have worked closely with Denbighshire officers to find a tenant and credit is due to Rob Arthur who’s taken our comments on board and worked hard to ensure the Scala will reflect the needs of our community.

“Prestatyn councillors and Denbighshire County Council have developed a good working partnership to ensure Prestatyn is on the up.

“The Scala wil be a vital part of a range of attractions that will maintain and support our town centre, tourism and the wider community.”

Aurora Leisure was revealed as the new leaseholder of the Scala in March.

Mr Arthur, who was  born in Bathgate, added: “It is about listening to the customer and the community.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 23.06.15

Rhyl Journal: New owner of Prestatyn cinema confirms that complex will keep its name

THE new leaseholders of a Prestatyn cinema have reassured residents that the complex will retain its former name.

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

New managers Aurora Leisure Ltd, whose founder is Robert Arthur, confirmed the intention is to retain the Scala name and “make sure that its historic significance to the town is enhanced.”

The complex is expected to open towards the end of May or early June. Work has not yet begun on the building.

Mr Arthur, aged 46, said: “We have not started to work on the building as yet as the Scala Trust have only recently surrendered their lease, but there is lots going on behind the scenes. At present there are no fully functioning projection facilities and that is our immediate priority. Our film booker is working on live events and a programme and our technical team is working to deliver new and improved projectors and sound.”

Mr Arthur added that he wanted to put on screening at times that suited all sections of the community. Plans include a Kids’ Club, family tickets, matinees and occasional “late night horrors”.

“We want to be the place to meet in town for a film, events or a coffee, supporting other businesses on the High Street by being open throughout the day,” he commented.

“There is a lot we need to do including recruitment of a new team and developing food and drink offers in the lobby.”

A public meeting will be held prior to the opening.

Source: Rhyl Journal article 30.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Legal advice sought over Prestatyn Scala’s unpaid ticket sales

Organisers of a St Asaph festival have sought legal advice over £13,000 in unpaid ticket sales.

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

The box office for the North Wales International Music Festival in St Asaph was run by the Scala Cinema in Prestatyn which closed its doors in January

Festival organisers claim the cinema has not handed over the thousands of pounds they collected on their behalf and are “determined” to recover monies owing to them.

Despite the dispute, this year’s event will go ahead. A concert launching the Festival will take place on September 20 while the festival itself runs from September 26 to October 3.

Sue Last, vice chair, said: “Naturally, we are extremely disappointed that the monies collected by the Scala has not been passed onto us. We are taking legal advice about the matter.”

“Denbighshire County Council have offered to give us a bridging loan if that is required as a temporary measure in the meantime.”

The programme for this year’s festival is being put together by Artistic Director Ann Atkinson. The festival was founded in 1972.

Ms Atkinson, a mezzo soprano, added: “The cathedral has a very special acoustic – the combination of the stone and the wood creates something really magical. Despite our difficulties, we are well on the way to putting together another excellent festival this year and we will be unveiling a stellar line up in the next couple of months.”

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that the loan was something that the authority was considering.

The spokesperson said: “We appreciate that the North Wales Music Festival is an important part of the cultural events calendar which attracts world class talent. We are in discussion with the organisers and considering their request.”

Trevor Harris, former owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema who expressed interest in taking on the Scala, commented:

“I feel there is something suspicious. It begs the questions what else do they owe?”

Rhiannon Hughes, former chair of the Scala Trust, said:

“The issues with the Music Festival are in the hands of our solicitors so it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 15 April 2015 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: New leaseholder has spoken about his vision for the cinema

The new leaseholder of a Prestatyn cinema has spoken about taking on a “community asset”.

Prestatyn Scala Cinema sign-age (Credit Rhyl Journal)
Prestatyn Scala Cinema sign-age (Credit Rhyl Journal)

Rob Arthur, aged 46, who runs Aurora Leisure Ltd, said he was aware there was a “high level of expectation”.

He promised to create jobs for people from the area and to hold a public meeting, prior to re-opening the doors of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre.

Aurora Leisure was revealed as the new leaseholder of the Scala earlier this month.

Mr Arthur, who established the company in 2012, was previously the managing director of Apollo Cinemas, overseeing an estate of 14 cinemas and 83 screens, until its sale in 2012.

In 2012, Mr Arthur – who is married with two children – re-opened and established a digital cinema in Thurso, Scotland to support the development of digital cinema and in mid-2013, he was appointed as interim director of operations at Curzon Cinemas, a London independent and art house cinema group.

The Bathgate-born director said:

“We are holding a public meeting, definitely before we open. It is about listening to the customer and the community. I know there has been a real interest in how this works and when the Scala closed.”

“We want to make it affordable and we would like to keep the live events going. Jobs created will be for local people and we will be making as many as we possibly can. We understand that it is a community asset.”

Mr Arthur added that he hoped to re-open the cinema next month.

“We are saying late April – we want to get it right,” he commented.”

“I know there was a big meeting when people were trying to save the cinema. We would like to see all those people who attended then, at our public meeting. When we are closer to re-opening, a date for the meeting will be announced.”

Source: Rhyl Journal News Article 20.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan

Rhyl Journal: Buyer steps in to save Prestatyn Scala

Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema and Arts Centre has been saved and will re-open in a matter of weeks.

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

Denbighshire County Council confirmed that it is working with a “preferred operator” to take on the venue after the deadline for expressions of Interests closed.

The Scala shut its doors in January after board members agreed to hand back their keys and lease to the council after a last-ditch effort to save the venue failed.

Following the closure, which came shortly after Denbighshire Council said it would end the Scala’s £41,000 grant in April, council bosses said they were seeking serious expressions of interest from experienced operators to open the venue as soon as possible.

It is understood that bosses are now simply sorting through red tape before the name of the new leaseowner is revealed.

A spokesperson from Denbighshire County Council said:

“Our priority remains getting the Scala back up and running as a cinema for the benefit of Prestatyn as quickly as possible and that is what we are working towards.”

Trevor Harris, who was amongst those expressing an interest in the Scala, said he was disappointed after he received a letter last week from the authority stating that his application had been unsuccessful.

The 75-year-old, who has more than 60 years experience in the industry, said he was “shocked and “upset about not being considered and admitted that he had his suspicions as to who the new operator might be.

In a letter written to Denbighshire County Council, which Mr Harris shared with The Journal, the previous owner of Oswestry’s Regal Cinema said: “My son and I thought that the council wanted experienced cinema operators in view of what happened to the Scala.”

Source: Rhyl Journal news article 04.03.15 by Suzanne Jordan

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