Cinema project looking “more feasible”

PROPOSALS to convert the old Montrose swimming pool into a cinema and arts venue are starting to look “more feasible”, according to the man behind the scheme.

David Paton this week said that, following a well-attended meeting, a group has now been formed to take the project forward and the next stage will be to conduct a feasibility study, investigate funding sources and draw up a business plan.

He said: “The meeting was really positive and we had about 30 people there. We went through an agenda looking at all the areas we’d need to cover and we did get some good feedback.

“From there we’ve set up a working group with some of the volunteers with skills that would be beneficial to the project and we now have eight people looking at different aspects and doing some groundwork to get things up and running if we can.”

A film and music enthusiast, David is keen to see the empty building put to use and to have a purpose-built venue in Montrose. Although he began working on the scheme as a private project, he received strong public backing after posting his designs for a 500-seat or two 250-seat auditoriums, bar and cafe facilities on Facebook. The Montrose Playhouse Project page has now attracted more than 2,400 likes and is reaching an audience of more than 20,000 people - almost twice the town’s population.

There are hopes to take advantage of a wider Angus audience and, within an area which includes Arbroath up the coast to Inverbervie and inland to Edzell and Brechin, David estimates roughly that there could potentially be between 40,000 and 60,000 people who currently have to travel to either Aberdeen or Dundee to use a cinema.

While the scheme is just in its early stages, he said that after the meeting it seems to be “less in the realms of impossibility.”

He continued: “Councillors David May and Paul Valentine have come on board to help with the council side of things and from the feedback we’ve been getting from the public, as well as people who have experience with this type of project, and looking at other cinemas like it, it’s starting to look like a feasible project.

“We do need to look further into funding and costings and hopefully over the next few weeks that could be more of a reality too. The next step is to look at business planning, funding and precedents set by other similar buildings around the country.

“We’ve been in contact with, or have been contacted by, others to find out how they were set up and function, including DCA in Dundee who have been very helpful.

“It’s just at the very early stages, but at least we’re giving it a try and if you don’t try, nothing will happen which is my premise behind it.”