Glasgow & West Scotland

Historic Picture House cinema in Campbeltown to close

The Picture House in 1913 and in 2013 Image copyright The Picture House
Image caption The Picture House was opened to the public for the first time in May 1913

One of the oldest cinemas in Europe is to close at the end of this month with the loss of seven jobs.

The Picture House, on the the banks of Campbeltown Loch, celebrated its centenary in May 2013.

Campbeltown Community Business, which owns and runs the A-listed art deco cinema, said the amount of improvement work needed meant it was unsustainable.

Efforts will continue to raise cash for the restoration of the building, which the company hopes to reopen in 2016.

In a statement, Campbeltown Community Business said: "Despite having had its best season for ticket sales in many years, and receiving extremely positive comments from the community following the recent changes in the operation, the Picture House is in need of substantial improvement before it can become a sustainable modern cinema.

"The volunteer board will focus their time and endeavours to secure a current shortfall in the £3m funding required to redevelop the facilities and create a modernised and refurbished cinema to better serve the local community in a sustainable manner."

Live events

The Picture House - known locally as the Wee Pictures - was one of the first purpose-built cinemas in Scotland when it opened in 1913.

It has been open continuously since then, except for a hiatus in the late 1980s.

Earlier this year, the cinema started showing live events such as operas and plays and improved the range of films available each week.

Jane Mayo, who chairs Campbeltown Community Business, said: "Having fought long and hard to secure the future of the Picture House, with regret we have been left with no option other than to cease trading in our current form for the short-term future.

"There have been recent successes, for example streaming live events from Andre Rieu and Monty Python and live theatre from Mull Theatre, but the building requires a significant refurbishment to meet the needs of all members of the community."

Mrs Mayo added: "Campbeltown Community Business will continue to fundraise to reach our development target of £3m in funding, which will see The Picture House re-open in 2016 with a brand new second screen, a new foyer and cafe bar.

"We have developed a business plan which clearly demonstrates that a redeveloped Picture House will be able to perform much better financially and be a sustainable community enterprise.

"The two screen operation will allow a much expanded range of films, as well as event cinema performances and even heritage related activities."

Live events

Rob Arthur, the interim manager of Campbeltown Picture House, is also managing director of the Thurso Cinema.

He said: "We are fully committed to supporting Campbeltown Community Business over the next two years as they aim to secure funding to re-develop and re-open The Picture House.

"The business needs to focus on providing a cinema for the people of Campbeltown and Kintyre which maintains the heritage of the current building and engages with all ages and all parts of the community using the latest digital technology.

"After re-development the cinema will be a significant local employer and we look forward to welcoming customers back to the Picture House on completion of re-development works."

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