THE Regent Cinema will show its final film next month unless a new operator can be found.
Charity Leven Community Cinema has announced it has applied to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) to close almost three years after it opened the Commercial Road picture house.
Its final, yet undecided, film is scheduled to be shown on March 24 and if nobody has stepped forward by that time, the doors will be closed and one of the town’s few family entertainment facilities will be lost.
Colin Cunningham, who is the charity’s treasurer, hoped that wouldn’t be
“It would be a massive, massive loss,” he said.
“We have always focused the cinema as being for families. On average, we are probably talking about a couple of thousand people a month coming along.
“We’ve got volunteers in here that do 25-30 hours a week and committee members in four days a week. Basically, this is their life.”
Mr Cunningham, who combines his cinema role with working both as an accountant and at Diageo, refuted any suggestion the cinema was failing, instead highlighted that members of Leven Community Cinema’s committee, who are all volunteers, could no longer afford the time, energy and business expertise to continue.
The cinema’s accounts submitted to OSCR appear to back this up and show in 2012 it generated an income of £185,999, with an expenditure of £175,543.
He did, however, admit one of the most recent hurdles the committee has faced is increased expenditure due to becoming VAT registered.
Indeed, the cinema was forced to put up its ticket prices last month in an attempt to cover this.
“We want to step back,” he added.
“We feel we have done our bit and achieved what we wanted as we have brought it a long way, but the commitment to continue and take it further is too much.
“There have been various people who have spoken to us previously who have shown an interest about coming on board, so it’s up to them over the next month to say if they are still interested.”
Mr Cunningham added, in his opinion, the basis for a sound business model had been laid by the charity but any new operator, which could take the form of a commercial investor or not for profit group, would be best advised to tweak it in order to generate
He said: “To me, the changes would be for people to come on board who have got the time to go out and look for funding.
“Maybe change the structure of how the cinema runs - maybe the ticket prices need to go up; more time spent negotiating with the film and utility companies?”
Mr Cunningham added the charity would not be difficult to deal with when it came to anyone wanting to take over and that London-based Raphael Properties, which owns the building, is understood to be willing to offer a similar lease as Leven Community Cinema has had.
In fact, if a new committee could be formed quickly, the current members could all step down at an AGM and the application to close the charity withdrawn.
Volunteers at the cinema and its one employee, projectionist Charles Eliss, were all informed of the charity’s decision over the past two weeks.
Anyone who is interested in discussing the future of the Regent can contact Mr Cunningham on 07966523362.