Fundraising campaign aims to reopen Filmhouse

£250k Crowdfunder aims to raise funds to refurbish cinema and take 21-year lease

by Amber Wilkinson

A crowdfunder has been launched to reopen Filmhouse, which closed its doors last year
A crowdfunder has been launched to reopen Filmhouse, which closed its doors last year Photo: Max Crawford
A £250,000 fundraising campaign has been launched in a bid to reopen Edinburgh's Filmhouse - which closed its doors last year after the collapse of its parent charity the Centre for the Moving image. The fundraiser is part of a wider campaign to raise £1.25 million.

The crowdfunder aims to raise sufficient funds to refurbish the cinema after which they will enter a 21-year lease with Caledonian Heritable - which acquired the building earlier this year - operating once again as an independent cinema venue.

Newly formed charity Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd. and Caledonian Heritable has agreed an interim lease to enable a period of fundraising for the essential refurbishment works to the cinemas and public areas. Caledonian Heritable is currently undertaking a programme of upgrades to the fabric and will gift all projection equipment to the new Filmhouse, including the customised analogue 35mm and 70mm projectors.

Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Limited was formed in last December by four former Filmhouse colleagues: James Rice, former programme manager and now a cinema strategist at specialist consultancy Mustard Studio; Rod White, former head of programming; David Boyd, former head of technical; and Ginnie Atkinson, former CEO of Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival until 2010. Mike Davidson CA, a strategic financial consultant, recently joined the Board bringing with him extensive charity experience. Filmhouse (Edinburgh) was granted charitable status by OSCR in the summer of 2023.

The re-opened Filmhouse would operate independently as a cultural cinema and would run the in-house café-bar to support the charity.

Ginnie Atkinson said: “This is a significant step on the journey towards restoring cultural cinema provision for the city. Filmhouse is more than just a cinema – it’s a home for cinema lovers and for film festivals and is proud of its track record in the area of film education, which would continue. We are delighted to be able to launch the fundraising campaign with the goal of opening the doors to a newly refurbished cinema building in 2024.

James Rice added: “The building is in an ideal city centre location and is well configured, but currently in run down condition. We want to improve and modernise the whole experience of visiting Filmhouse so it can survive and thrive into the future and we need the support of everyone who wants the same thing.”

A Caledonian Heritable spokesperson said: “Caledonian Heritable have a long-standing appreciation of the vital importance of culture and the arts to the City of Edinburgh. We are pleased to be working with Filmhouse, Creative Scotland and the City of Edinburgh Council in anticipation of a new era at this key cultural venue.”

David Smith, Director of Screen Scotland said: “Ginnie, James, David and Rod have worked incredibly hard over the last few months to secure this opportunity for the city and Scotland. I know that everyone round the table shares the same ambition – one also held by those many campaigners who raised their voices in support of the Filmhouse across recent months – to see the Filmhouse projectors kick back into life and the seats full of cinema lovers for decades to come. That’s an ambition Screen Scotland is very happy to support.”

Edinburgh City Council has underlined its backing in terms of retaining Filmhouse as a cultural venue

Councillor Val Walker, Culture and Communities Convener said: “We are clear in our commitment to maintaining 88 Lothian Road as a world-class hub for independent, cultural cinema. We have been working closely with our partners at Creative Scotland/Screen Scotland, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise on forging a sustainable path forward for this Edinburgh institution, and spiritual home of the Edinburgh International Film Festival.

“We will continue to support our partners, the building owners, and Filmhouse (Edinburgh) Ltd. in our common goal to return 88 Lothian Road to its rightful place in Edinburgh’s cultural landscape.”

Donate to the #filmhouseopenthedoors crowdfunder here.

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