Angus and the Mearns may soon have a movie theatre to rival a new wave of marquee Scottish cinemas like the Birks, the Mareel and the DCA.
Campaigners for a new Montrose Playhouse have obtained a £10,000 Lottery grant along with the services of a man who helped bring celluloid back to the centre of Dundee, Aberfeldy, Oban and Lerwick.
Members of the Montrose Playhouse Project have been in talks with Angus Council to turn the former swimming pool in The Mall into a community-driven hub for entertainment and learning.
Project chairman Trevor Eakin said: “The Lottery award means that we are now going to be able to employ Ron Inglis, independent cinema consultant, to write a preliminary business plan and a feasibility study.
“This will be a major help in getting grant awards and Ron has 30 years of experience and knowledge in the cinema industry and has been recommended to us by every other independent cinema we have spoken to including the Phoenix in Oban, the Birks in Aberfeldy, and the Dundee Contemporary Arts theatre, and Ron was also fundamental in the building and opening of the Mareel in Shetland.
“Ron will continue to assist and advise us throughout the project and has many contacts in the industry that will be able to help us.
“He was among the first to congratulate us in all our achievements getting us to this point.
“All of us who began this project with its founder, David Paton, knew that this was going to be a long journey.”
Arbroath firm Jpcreativevision will design a website while a quantity surveyor helps plan and cost the building ahead of a planning application.
Trustees and members have been voted in and an application submitted to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, with approval anticipated within the next five weeks.
Charitable status would pave the way to much larger grants.
In the face of a “huge lack of response” from under-18s in a Facebook and paper survey, some of the new money will be used to survey Mearns schools.
Group vice-chairman Mr Paton said: “I am delighted with the progress that the team have made over the past few months, edging ever closer to our goal of bringing this much-needed facility to the town and wider area.
“The support the group have given me as the founder of the project is invaluable, and along with the continuing support of the community I am confident that the project will go all the way to us sitting in a cinema watching films in the heart of Montrose,” he said.
Mr Eakin added: “We have been highly pleased with the response from the general public, with our survey showing that 99% of those asked said that they would use a modern cinema venue in the town.”
You can follow progress on the group’s Facebook page.