Big Lottery boost for Montrose Playhouse Project

Montrose Playhouse Project gets Big Lottery Fund grant
Montrose Playhouse Project gets Big Lottery Fund grant

Film lovers in Montrose are one step closer to having a cinema and arts centre in the town as the community project aiming to bring it to the burgh obtains a lottery grant.

Montrose Playhouse Project have been awarded £9,792 by the Big Lottery Fund.

The group hopes to turn the former swimming pool, on The Mall, into a multi-functional building, which will provide films, live theatre screenings, an art centre, a restaurant, a bar and meeting rooms. will provide films, live theatre screenings, an art centre, a restaurant, a bar and meeting rooms.

The lottery funding is on top of a £3,650 grant from Firstport in January.

Montrose Playhouse Project chairman Trevor Eakin said: “All of us who began this project with its founder, David Paton, knew that this was going to be a long journey.

“We have been highly pleased with the response from the general public with our survey showing that 99 per cent of those asked said that they would use a modern cinema venue in the town.

“We realise it may be frustrating for those who had expected faster results but this is such an important project for the town, that we want to make sure we do it right.

He added: “Our Facebook page now has 3,200 followers and every person who joins is another tick in the box for potential funders.

“This is a truly exciting time for us and we expect to be kept extremely busy in the coming months as we progress the project further.

“The cinema would benefit everyone from educating school children to film clubs, offering a community driven hub for entertainment and learning.”

The Lottery grant means that the Montrose Playhouse Project are able to employ Ron Inglis, independent cinema consultant who was fundamental in the building and opening of The Mareel in Shetland, to write a preliminary business plan and a feasibility study.

Mr Eakin said: “This will be a major help in getting grant awards. Ron has 30 years of experience and knowledge in the cinema industry and has been recommended to us by every other independent cinema we have spoken to, including The Phoenix in Oban, The Birks in Aberfeldy and Dundee Contemporary Arts Theatre.

“He will continue to assist and advise us throughout the project and has many contacts in the industry that will be able to help us. He was among the first to congratulate us in all our achievements getting us to this point.”

The group also has a quantity surveyor helping them with the planning and costing of the building and both grants from the Big Lottery Fund and Firstport will allow them to put together a planning application to Angus Council for approval.

The money will also pay for a survey to be sent out to schools across Angus and the Mearns.

Mr Eakin said: “When we collated all the information from our Facebook survey and the paper ones handed into the Montrose Review office, it showed that there was a huge lack of response from the under-18s.

“Filling this gap in our response will also help us in applying for further grants as we are confident that it will prove a need in our community to provide education and entertainment facilities to the youngsters in the area. For us to be successful in the bigger grant applications we need to be able to prove to the funders that this is a viable project.”

The lottery grant will also pay for a website for the Playhouse Project, which will be designed by Angus company Jpcreativevision.

Mr Eakin said: “The website will mean that as well as our Facebook page, people can get information about who we are, what our aims are and how they can get involved if they wish to. It will be another great outlet for keeping people informed.”

The Playhouse Project have employed a legal team and have voted in trustees and members into the group.

Mr Eakin concluded: “We have a written constitution and an application to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) awaiting approval from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which we hope to have a decision on in the next four to five weeks.

“Once this is hopefully approved then it means we have the right status to apply for much larger grants and therefore move things on even quicker.”