Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Landmark cinema gets £40k loan to develop arts

Chief executive of Strand Arts Centre, Mimi Turtle, and UCIT associate director, Phelim Sharvin

A £40,000 loan is enabling the historic Strand Cinema in east Belfast to be transformed into a new arts centre.

The Ulster Community Investment Trust (UCIT) provides community and social enterprises in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with access to affordable loans with all profits generated being recycled for reinvestment into the social sector.

The famous art deco building – which incorporated shipyard influences from the nearby Harland & Wolff, including porthole windows and lighting – first opened its doors as a cinema in 1935.

Due to a lack of modern projectors, the cinema had not been able to show the newest movies but has now received new projectors, marking the start of a wider refurbishment project combining new technology with the traditional fabric of the building.

The new Strand Arts Centre will be able to host workshop activities such as a filmmakers club where young people can make their own movies and then showcase them on the big screen through the new projectors.

Mimi Turtle, chief executive of Strand Arts Centre, said: "This loan from UCIT will significantly increase our programme of activities, ensuring the Strand Arts Centre is a viable enterprise."

Phelim Sharvin, associate director of UCIT, said: "UCIT is delighted to be able to support such an exciting initiative, particularly with Strand Arts Centre's well-structured plan to bring the local community together.

UCIT has so far committed more than £46m to over 300 charities, community organisations and social enterprises.

BACKGROUND

The plans for the Strand Arts Centre include:

* Three cinema screens showing new release films as well as a programme of classical, cultural and educational films.

* An open plan foyer with box office, confectionery sales, cafe and gallery space.

* An extensive programme of drama, dance, performing arts and media courses.

* Two drama/dance studios.

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