Preferred operator agreed for Belmont Cinema

Belmont Community Cinema Ltd has been awarded up to £40,000

A PREFERRED operator was agreed at a council committee today (13 September 2023) to bring the Belmont Cinema back to life again.

Belmont Community Cinema Ltd have set out plans to reopen the building as an independent, not-for-profit cinema, operated and programmed from Aberdeen which focuses on four key areas – cultural film programming, education and filmmaking, community, and customer experience.

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Aberdeen City Council’s Finance and Resources committee today approved a report which recommended a preferred operator for the venue, which would become a space for all arts, including as a cultural cinema and a licenced restaurant in the basement bar with an improved hospitality offer and the food offer central to the business.

City Council Co-Leader Councillor Ian Yuill said: “People have missed having an independent cinema in our city centre since the Belmont Cinema closed. Choosing a preferred operator is a very important step towards reopening the Belmont Cinema under new management.

“We look forward to seeing the preferred operator develop their plans into a thriving and popular cinema once again.”

Finance convener Councillor Alex McLellan said: “Belmont Community Cinema Ltd has set out ambitious plans to bring the building back into use as an as an independent, not-for-profit, cinema and I wish them well with their future fundraising activities.”

The report to committee said Belmont Community Cinema Ltd is to be given an exclusivity period agreement to undertake fundraising and finalise their  redevelopment plans to set out the groundwork for a long-term operators lease.

It said the company was born out of the Save the Belmont Cinema campaign, with a directorship drawing on experienced personnel with knowledge and skills in cinema, capital development, business, marketing, community engagement and education.  Key to success will be an ambitious refurbishment programme, a strong locally supplied food and drink offer and building an attractive membership programme to ensure sustainability.

Belmont Community Cinema Ltd has an aspiration is to make The Belmont the destination for Film in the north east, through curated programming responding to community needs, a strategic partnership with Station House Media Unit (Shmu) to build on the cinema’s previous education offer, school’s programmes, community outreach, and establish the venue as a filmmaking/ experience hub. Similarly the group wishes to reengage the wider cultural sector as a city centre hub for a wide range of groups, events and festivals, including their aspiration for establishing an Aberdeen Film Festival.

The report also said a timeline provided in the company’s business plan indicates a target to reopen July/August 2024 which allows for a six month period to carry out due diligence, condition surveys, finalisation of costs, contraction and fundraising prior to commencement of refurbishment work in April 2024.

The Belmont Cinema, a City Council-owned three screen cinema (with seating for 272, 146 and 67 persons, has remained closed to the public since the previously contracted operator, Belmont Filmhouse limited, a subsidiary of the Centre for Moving Image went into administration with its parent company in October 2022.

Aberdeen City Council put out an expressions of interest for a new operator in May 2023.

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