A fundraising campaign to raise £2m by December 7 to save Edinburgh Filmhouse has kicked off today (November 16), with the aim of securing Filmhouse as Edinburgh’s independent and cultural cinema hub.
The 88 Lothian Road building was formerly the home of the Filmhouse cinema, the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF) and the Edinburgh Film Guild. The building was put up for sale after parent company the Centre for the Moving Image (CMI) – which also ran the Belmont Filmhouse in Aberdeen – went into administration in October of this year.
The building is estimated as being worth £2m. A closing date of December 7 has been set to raise the money, via the Save Filmhouse Cinema crowdfunding page, which has over £7,000 as of this morning.
The Edinburgh Film Guild is billed as the oldest cinema society in the world, and launched the inaugural EIFF in 1947.
This campaign is being run by a specially created fundraising group within the Edinburgh Film Guild, made up of ex-head of programming at Filmhouse Rod White; ex-head technician David Boyd; former programme manager James Rice; former Filmhouse CEO Ginnie Atkinson; with the support of Edinburgh Film Guild chair Jim Dunnigan and secretary Phil Denning.
A statement from the group said: “A well-publicised crowd-funder is the only way to open up to everyone the opportunity of contributing financially, be it individuals or philanthropic donors – those who care about the continued operation of Filmhouse and who are shocked by the idea of its loss. Last week a call went out to the Scottish Government and the City of Edinburgh Council to purchase the building. It is anticipated that raising a significant sum will encourage the public funders’ support.”
Actor Jack Lowden added: “As a past resident of Edinburgh, never mind as an actor, the idea of our capital losing such an important cultural centre is deeply saddening. With the Scottish film industry growing faster and faster, it’s more important than ever to have a truly independent platform in our city. And just as importantly, a welcoming place to have a great night out. The Filmhouse must be saved! Mon the Hoose! ”
The campaign is one of several movements going on in Edinburgh and Aberdeen to resurrect the Filmhouse cinemas and the EIFF. Filmmaker and former EIFF artistic director (1996-7) Mark Cousins made a statement on October 31 by projecting images from classic films onto public buildings across Edinburgh.
An online petition to save the organisations, run by filmmaker Paul Sng alongside Amanda Rogers of Cinetopia, now has just shy of 24,000 signatures.
A grassroots movement in Aberdeen, Save the Belmont Cinema, is working to reopen the cinema, the building of which is owned by Aberdeen City Council, with floated options including a community takeover.
Fundraiser statement in full:
“Filmhouse was economically viable prior to the creation of the CMI in 2010. We firmly believe there is a sustainable model if the cinema is operated in a ‘back to basics’ style with its core business at heart. Rescuing the building would usher in a new era for Filmhouse, with a drive to see older audiences return to the cinema running in tandem with a re-invigorated approach to attracting and developing new and younger audiences, and a renewed commitment to ensure open access, with all welcome and able to partake.
”Upkeep and maintenance issues with 88 Lothian Road have been cited as motivation for an initiative to build a new Filmhouse in recent years. The support group recognise this ambitious and valid vision for the future, however the current building, if refurbished, is entirely suitable for the needs of Filmhouse audiences.
”It is also acknowledged that energy bills are a key challenge for all building-based arts organisations and one to be tackled, but we do not believe this should stop the mission of saving the Filmhouse building in the first instance.”