A community run project to bring a cinema to Montrose has received its first influx of funding and is being backed by an Angus MSP.
Montrose Playhouse Project has been awarded a £3,650 grant to pay for a website, marketing, legal fees for the group to become constituted - a written agreement of what a group is going to do and how they will do it - and fund-raising events.
The plan to turn the former swimming pool, on The Mall, into a three screen cinema is also being backed by Nigel Don MSP for Angus North and the Mearns.
Trevor Eakin, chairman of Montrose Playhouse Project, said: “It’s great for us to get our first grant. Whilst this initial sum may not seem much in comparison to the amount we will need to raise, it is of huge importance and is the first step towards achieving our goal. It gives us a platform apply for bigger funding.”
Firstport, a company which supports individuals with good business ideas that benefit people, awarded the Playhouse Project its first grant.
MSP Nigel Don said: “I am delighted that the group has received this significant sum to enable them to develop a website and to cover the initial legal costs of forming a suitable organisation to raise funds.
“They are busy researching the opportunities for a cinema based community space and I have no doubt there is a great deal of enthusiasm in the area for this project.”
Mr Eakin said: “We are really pleased to get the support of an MSP, as this further bolsters the need and desire for such a project in the Angus area.
“More and more people are moving to Montrose and there’s nothing for them to do and this is why we believe its necessary for us to build a cinema. The reaction we have been getting from everybody is that the town needs something like this.
“Not everyone can afford to go Dundee or Aberdeen to go to the nearest cinema. If you take a family with children, by the time they’ve gone to Aberdeen or Dundee and back again and spent money on travel, tickets and food and drink, they could have spent around £100. Whereas if there was a cinema in the town, they may only spend £15 to £20.”
The Montrose Playhouse Project has more than 3,000 likes on Facebook and with the new funding, the group is planning to expand its online presence with a new website, which they hope in the future will be interactive and display cinema listings, as well as have an online box office for people to buy tickets.
In October, members of the project sent in an application, known as a Community Asset Transfer (CAT), to Angus Council in October, which was accepted in November. This was the first stage of six and, for the second stage, the group has to be constituted and prove the playhouse will be beneficial to the area.
Mr Eakin said the group has worked out that it would have a catchment area of around 60,000 people.
The Playhouse Project launched an online survey on Facebook, which around 1,500 filled in with 98 per cent saying they would use a cinema in the town. With the grant from Firstport, a questionnaire will be sent out to the local schools asking pupils what they would like to see from a picture house in the area.
Mr Eakin said: “By far the biggest response we got on the survey were from the 35 to 55 age group, which is why we need proof of a need for the younger generation.”
He added: “We want this to be an independent playhouse, but we want it to be more than just a cinema. We want to be able to showcase educational films for the local schools, stream live events like concerts and theatre productions and possibly have a recording studio for bands.
“Speaking to several independent cinema’s throughout Scotland has given us a wealth of information and the support of the cinematic community has been truly amazing.”
Currently Montrose Playhouse Project has eight members and they will be looking to expand in the future, Mr Eakin concluded they have applied for more funding to pay for business plans and a study to assess whether a cinema in Montrose is feasible.