Independent cinemas across the north and north-east have had their immediate future secured by a package of emergency funding.
The Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen, Moray Playhouse in Elgin, Eden Court in Inverness and An Lanntair in Stornoway were among 30 cinemas across Scotland to receive a share of £3.55 million from the Scottish Government’s Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund and The National Lottery, distributed via Screen Scotland.
And film lovers in some of the more remote parts of the western Highlands and islands will benefit from the Screen Machine mobile cinema, which will now be able to continue showing the latest releases.
The fund, which aims to bridge the financial gap faced by independently owned cinemas as a result of Covid-19, will now support those venues who can operate in the short-term, and help others towards reopening when it is safe to do so.
The Belmont Filmhouse received £131,000, with £149,583 going to the Moray Playhouse, £158,814 to Eden Court, £44,200 to An Lanntair, and £24,521 to the Screen Machine.
Gavin MacKenzie, of Moray Playhouse operators Caledonia Cinemas, said: “We are delighted with this support, which will allow us to continue to open and serve the Moray public in these challenging times.
“We have had to borrow in order to fund the safety measures to allow all our customers to feel confident that when they visit they are in a safe environment, and to meet our running costs since March.
“This funding will allow us to meet our overheads, retain our staff and continue to operate with the current restrictions.”
Ken Hay, chief executive at Centre for the Moving Image, operators of the Belmont Filmhouse, said: “Cinemas are the heart of many communities and the Belmont Filmhouse is no different.
“Our communities want us to be open so that we can dim the lights and help people escape everything else for a couple of hours with the magic of cinema – and they’ve already donated over £100,000 so that we can do just that.
“And this funding from Screen Scotland will be integral in keeping the cinema open over the next five months.”
Alison Logsdail, head of fundraising at Eden Court, said the theatre would be able to again screen movies thanks to the cash boost.
She said: “The cultural experience of independent cinema has been badly missed through the crisis so we are delighted that, thanks to the fund, we can open our doors again and welcome audiences back.”
An Lanntair chief executive, Elly Fletcher, said: “An Lanntair runs the only cinema on the Isle of Lewis and Harris, programming everything from big blockbusters to independent arthouse film and a range of festivals and events throughout the year.
“Our cinema reopened after lockdown in September, screening a diversity of films to a socially-distanced audience each week.
“Our audiences have told us how important the cinema is to them and this new funding from the Independent Cinema Recovery Fund will be so crucial now to supporting us to continue to offer our film programme throughout this unusual and challenging time.”