Belmont Cinema to Reopen With Campaigners Chosen as New Operators
Updated: Sep 14
Year-Long Campaign to Save the Belmont Culminates in Council Decision Victory
By Clive Davies
Aberdeen City Council’s Finance and Resources Committee announced their decision to select Belmont Community Cinema Ltd. as the preferred operator for the Belmont Cinema.
This development comes nearly a year after the Belmont Filmhouse, Aberdeen’s only independent cinema, ceased operations in October 2022, due to its parent company, The Centre for the Moving Image, entering administration.
In response to the closure, a community-led campaign named Save The Belmont Cinema was launched. With the objective of facilitating the cinema’s sustainable reopening, the campaign's steering group established Belmont Community Cinema Ltd.
Over recent months, the organization has actively engaged in crafting a business plan and vision for the Belmont Cinema. The group met with Council officers in July to present their proposal, which ultimately led to their appointment as the venue's preferred operator.
The company will now enter a “period of exclusivity” to raise funds and formulate operational and redevelopment plans, with a provisional target of reopening Summer 2024.
Dallas King, a director of Belmont Community Cinema and former manager of the Filmhouse, described his reaction as a “complete mixture of excitement, euphoria and nerves”, adding:
“We now have to deliver on what we’ve promised and bring the cinema back. We’ve got a long road ahead, but we’re very confident that we’ve got the right plan. We’re going to focus on film, education, community and customer experience.
"Aberdeen is frankly devoid of independent world cinema, you’ve got three multiplexes, but they all show the same six or seven films, so I have to go to Dundee or Glasgow to see certain films, so we’re going to make sure Aberdeen has that offering again.”
He added: “Education wise, we’re going to work with Station House Media unit on an educational programme and filmmaking courses, in order to nurture and develop the next generation of filmmakers in Aberdeen. In terms of the community, we want the cinema to be operated by the people of Aberdeen for the people of Aberdeen, so we’re going to be listening to what customers want in terms of programming and also work with local suppliers to fill the kiosk and the café bar.”
Jacob Campbell, founder of the Save the Belmont Cinema campaign and Chairperson of Belmont Community Cinema Ltd., said: “In the short term, we’ll be having a public meeting in the beginning of October to update the wider community on what we’ve been up to during the past few months, because we haven’t been able to update people as much as we’d like to because of the confidential nature of what we’ve been doing with the council.”
He continued: “As for the long term, our hope is that if things go swimmingly, mid-2024 is when we’re looking at opening. But between then and now a lot needs to be done, fundraising, getting money back into the cinema. Capital expenditure as well as operational expenditure as well. We need to galvanize the city around this and really make it a city-wide campaign that everybody wants to get involved in, to make sure that a sustainable future is charted out for the Belmont.”
The decision of the council drew a positive comment from Maggie Chapman MSP, who said:
"Today is a great day for both the much-loved Belmont Cinema and for residents across Aberdeen, including the staff who worked at the Belmont. I warmly congratulate the Save The Belmont Cinema campaign for their steadfast commitment to saving this important cultural and community asset. I am thrilled that Aberdeen City Council have accepted their application to run the Belmont Cinema as a not-for-profit venture. I hope all parties will join with the Scottish Greens in continuing to champion a secure and sustainable future for the Belmont Cinema."