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.

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

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

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

Rhyl Journal: Prestatyn’s Scala Cinema closes its doors but puts hope in new campaign

A PRESTATYN community cinema has shut its doors. 

A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.
A Rhyl Journal photo showing a demonstration protest outside the Prestatyn Scala cinema.

Trust members of the Scala Cinema and Arts Centre confirmed that the venue closed this morning (Thursday) and will only re-open if funds are found.

Fears over the future of the cinema surfaced in October after Denbighshire County Council said it would be looking to end the cinema’s yearly £41,000 grant in April.

Further problems surfaced when it was revealed that the Scala was late with its November wages payment – putting the cinema three months in arrears.

Trust members have said that they intend to launch a final campaign to save the resource next week – more details are set to be revealed soon.

Trust Members have said that they “would be grateful to hear from local businesses or individuals who recognise its value and potential and are interested in becoming involved and associated with this respected venue.”

Rhiannon Hughes, Chair of the Scala Trust, said: “It is awfully sad. The building has been flooded already with people getting upset – the Scala is a massive part of the community.

“We haven’t given up hope though. The Trust had to close the Cinema and it will remain closed for now but we will be launching a final campaign next week and will aim to get the doors re-opened if we can.

“Now we have had to close the Cinema we hope that people will be more aware that we do need help. 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.”

Chris Bond, general manager, added:

“We would like to apologise to all our customers and community groups who will be inconvenienced by this closure. ”

“Whilst 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.”

The Scala opened in February 2009 with a remit from the Council for delivering an educational and community programme as well as being a cinema.

In a statement, councillor Paul Penlington said:

“We are meeting with county officers as a matter of urgency to find a way to open the Scala again as soon as possible.”

“Our town and county Councilors have worked hard to ensure other important facilities in Prestatyn are re-furbished and opened again so hopefully we can do it once more and find a way to keep a long standing landmark at the heart of our community that won’t place any additional financial burdens on our ratepayers.”

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.”

“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: Rhyl Journal News Article 08.01.15 by Suzanne Jordan

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