Highlights from public meeting of The Belmont Cinema
On Sunday 8th October 2023, the team behind The Belmont Cinema welcomed over 130 people to the Cowdray Hall for an update on the campaign to Save The Belmont Cinema.
The event took place exactly one year to the day of the first public meeting of the campaign, following the closure of the Belmont Filmhouse on 6th October 2022.
It had been a long year, and a very busy six months since the last public meeting on the 27th March at The Blue Lamp, where the team announced plans to submit a bid to operate the cinema.
The key points covered on the day were:
The parent company behind The Belmont Cinema, Belmont Community Cinema Ltd, is a company limited by guarantee which is now a registered Scottish charity with Office for Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) - SCO52867
- As a not-for-profit company our charitable aims will be the advancement of the Arts, Culture and Education by:
Procuring and operating for the public benefit, the Belmont Cinema
Promoting cinema screenings and other artistic events in the Belmont
Promoting education, filmmaking and training
Working in partnership with other bodies to achieve the aims
Belmont Community Cinema Ltd. submitted a business plan and proposal for the cinema to Aberdeen City Council in July and were selected as the Preferred Operator for the Belmont Cinema by the Council on Wednesday 13th September. We have a period of exclusivity to secure financing and prove the viability of our business plan.
Our vision for the cinema is to reopen it as a sustainable business that is programmed and operated by Aberdeen for Aberdeen
Our vision is built on four founding pillars - Film, Education and Filmmaking, Community and Customer Experience:
Screening arthouse, independent and world cinema, supplemented by quality mainstream films. In addition, there would also be Event Cinema e.g. NT Live and Met Opera, accessible screenings, the ability to show films on 35mm and 70mm, plus re-engaging with film festivals such as French Film Festival, Take One Action and Scotland Loves Anime
Being fully independent allows The Belmont Cinema to have full control of its programme. A newly created post of Programme Liaison would work with the film bookers, staff and the people of Aberdeen, to develop a strong, compelling slate of films that would engage audiences
We would look to develop and curate our very own Aberdeen Film Festival
- Education and Filmmaking
One of the key aspects of our vision is the strategic partnership with Station House Media Unit (shmu)
shmu will lead on the design, development and implementation of the film education, filmmaking and training aspect of the cinema
With a dedicated space on the top floor of the cinema, the Belmont can be the base for Aberdeen’s BFI Film Academy, Creative & Digital Media Foundation Apprenticeships, their expanding Aberdeen City & Shire schools filmmaking programme and Sir Sean Connery Foundation Film School.
Embedded within Aberdeen’s Cultural Strategy, The Belmont Cinema will become a regional hub for Film and Moving Image in the North East
Membership will allow customers to support the venue and become part of its story. Plus receiving benefits that encourage active participation with the cinema
The cinema screens, cafe bar and meeting room will be available for hire by community organisations and we will seek to partner with many on events/screenings
Accessibility and inclusion is key to our programming making sure all audiences feel welcome and able to enjoy the film programme
Supporting local businesses by having local produce stocked in our kiosk and cafe bar
- Customer Experience
Following the pandemic, with audiences now accustomed to the convenience of streaming, there is a need to deliver a quality cinematic experience that cannot be replicated at home and make going to the cinema a real night out again
A high level of customer service from the staff who are welcoming and knowledgeable about the film programme, coupled with perfect film presentation in terms of picture and sound, achieved by having a Technical Manager in charge of projection
Brand new Point of Sale and Customer Relationship Management systems will improve the customer experience. From the website and app, all the way through to purchasing items at the cinema.
The Destination for Film
The Belmont Cinema will become THE destination for film in Aberdeen. This will be achieved by investing in a substantial refurbishment of the building to improve the customer experience
Richard Tinto from Tinto Architecture presented some visuals of what a redesigned and refurbished Belmont Cinema could offer in terms of experience
Finance and Fundraising
We plan to reopen as a viable, sustainable enterprise that doesn’t depend on grants for its existence. We’ll price the Belmont so that it’s affordable, attracts people in sufficient numbers - but also so that it covers its costs and makes an operating surplus
The estimated cost of the planned refurbishment is £2 million
There is the potential to split the refurbishment work into stages depending on access to capital grants and fundraising
- We will target four different sources:
Grant making bodies and institutions who fund capital regeneration projects.
Philanthropists and ‘high net worth individuals’ who want to do something meaningful for Aberdeen and/or have a passion for film and the arts.
The Corporate Sector – a great opportunity for local businesses to get involved in a high profile, well-supported, community project. This is for those businesses committed to Aberdeen and those who want to leave a legacy as part of the Energy Transition. There’ll be opportunities for in-kind contributions from this group (e.g refurbishment work).
Individuals and community groups – arts and film lovers, the Aberdeen diaspora, lovers of a vibrant city centre
We will begin to target the first three groups now, followed by a public crowdfunding campaign in the new year
We have set an ambitious date for the reopening of Autumn 2024
To achieve this, our public fundraising campaign will be launched in early 2024
Commencement of the refurbishment work will begin in April 2024, subject to successful completion of the fundraising campaign
This timeline is subject to change dependent on a variety of factors
The Next Steps - How Can You Help?
Spread the word - share and interact with the social media posts, share your memories on the website and talk to people about the Belmont Cinema
Share contacts within the corporate sector and high-net worth individuals with us who may be interested in donating to the campaign
There will be volunteer opportunities to be involved in events and the campaign
Apply for the position of Head of Income Generation and Business Development
Following the presentation, there was an opportunity for the audience to put questions to the Directors of Belmont Community Cinema.
The questions and answers will form the basis of a Frequently Asked Questions page that will be added to the website soon. The page will be updated during the course of the campaign.