Aberdeen’s only independent filmhouse, which closed last year due to financial troubles, is set to reopen in 2024 as a not-for-profit community cinema. A local charity has launched a £2m fundraising campaign to restore the historic venue and make it a hub for film education and culture.
The closure of Belmont Cinema
Belmont Cinema was Aberdeen’s only independent filmhouse, offering a diverse range of films from around the world, as well as hosting festivals, events and workshops. The cinema was housed in a Grade B listed building that dates back to 1896 and was originally a school.
However, in October 2020, the cinema closed suddenly after its operators went into administration, with the loss of 20 jobs. The closure sparked a huge campaign to save the venue, with thousands of people signing petitions and expressing their support on social media.
The formation of Belmont Community Cinema
The city’s local authority, which owns the building, decided to put its future in the hands of the community. A group of film enthusiasts and campaigners formed a charity called Belmont Community Cinema (BCC) and secured a lease for the venue.
BCC’s vision is to run the cinema as a sustainable independent enterprise that serves the needs and interests of the local community. The charity aims to provide a high-quality film offering, as well as education opportunities, outreach programs and social events.
The plans for refurbishment and reopening
BCC has launched a £2m fundraising campaign to refurbish and reopen the cinema by autumn 2024. The plans include upgrading the equipment, improving the accessibility and comfort of the auditoriums, creating a cafe and bar area, and enhancing the facade and entrance of the building.
The charity hopes to attract funding from various sources, such as grant bodies, philanthropists, sponsors and donors. It also plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in the next few months, inviting the public to contribute to the project and become part of the cinema’s story.
The challenges and opportunities ahead
BCC faces many challenges in its ambitious endeavour, such as securing enough funding, complying with building regulations, managing the restoration work and recruiting staff and volunteers. The charity also has to contend with the uncertainties and difficulties posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the cinema industry.
However, BCC also sees many opportunities and benefits in reopening the cinema as a not-for-profit. The charity believes that there is a strong demand and appreciation for independent cinema in Aberdeen, especially after the closure of other venues such as Cineworld. BCC also hopes to collaborate with other cultural organisations and groups in the city, such as Aberdeen Performing Arts, Peacock Visual Arts and Aberdeen Art Gallery.
The future of Belmont Cinema
BCC’s mission is to make Belmont Cinema a vibrant and welcoming space for film lovers and filmmakers alike. The charity wants to celebrate the history and heritage of the cinema, while also embracing innovation and diversity. BCC aims to make Belmont Cinema a destination venue that contributes to the cultural and social life of Aberdeen.
Will BCC succeed in its mission? Will Belmont Cinema reopen its doors in 2024? Will Aberdeen once again have its own independent filmhouse? Only time will tell.