Festival Flicks – but No Assembly Fix

Apr 2 2010 | By More
Edinburgh Festival Theatre gets funding for film upgrade but Assembly Rooms project KB’d by Heritage Lottery Fund

By Thom Dibdin

The Festival Theatre is set to become the venue for the opening night gala premiere of this year’s Edinburgh International Film Festival 2010 after being given a £245,000 grant to install digital and 35mm projection equipment.

The Scottish government grant will create Scotland’s largest digital cinema and provide a 1,600 seat film venue with high quality front-of-house facilities.  Work will start immediately to ensure the new cinema facility is up and running for this year’s EIFF.

John Stalker, Chief Executive of Festival City Theatres Trust, said: “We are so excited. Together with our soon to be constructed rehearsal facility, the installation of digital cinema completes the original vision and ambition for the Festival Theatre to be Scotland’s pre-eminent national centre for the creative arts.

“We look forward to working with the Edinburgh International Film Festival, providing it with an elegant and dramatic setting for its red carpet events, screenings and premieres. Throughout the year we also hope to enrich our programme with unique film presentations as well as ultimately broadcasting work performed at the Festival Theatre to other venues around Scotland and beyond.

This year’s EIFF opens on June 16, with the full programme announced on June 1 2010.


Meanwhile the City Council’s controversial £12m Assembly Rooms  refurbishment plans are being “reassessed” after the council failed in a £2.7 million bid for Heritage Lottery funding. The funds were seen as providing leverage for further support from other organisations. The council has already committed £2 million to the project.

The plans, which have been opposed by Assembly Theatres which runs the venue during the Fringe, would have involved turning the ground floor over to shopping units and restaurants. While this would have opened up new revenue streams for the council, it would have curtailed the building’s use in August, leaving only the two main upstairs spaces available as Fringe venues.

The City of Edinburgh Council has already allocated £2 million for the project which, according to council reports, includes “vital service renewal and fabric repairs within the next two years to avoid a partial or full closure”. The report estimates that £4.6 million will be required over the next five years just to maintain the status quo.

Councillor Deidre Brock, Edinburgh’s culture leader, said, “When we have assessed what can be achieved with the funds we have, a plan will be developed. Given our determination to have an improved offer for the Cultural Olympiad in 2012, this is an urgent necessity.”

Edinburgh International Film Festival Website


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