PRESS - 11TH JUNE 2012

THE BIRKS CINEMA: BUILDING WORKS UNDERWAY
- Comment from cinema patron Actor Alan Cumming

Refurbishment and transformation into a state-of-the-art cinema in Aberfeldy is now underway. A large banner saying 'THANK YOU' to supporters and funders was unfurled on the fencing at the site today, and Friends of The Birks Cinema Group patron, Hollywood actor Alan Cumming, has welcomed this latest exciting step in realising the ambitions for the local community-led project.

Aberfeldy-born actor Alan Cumming said: "It is so great to think that work is finally starting to bring the Birks back to its former glory,and even greater to imagine that the place will be open for businessnext spring. I am so proud of the Birks team and the whole Aberfeldy community for coming together and making this happen."

Charlotte Flower, Chair of the Friends of the Birks Cinema group, said: “I have to keep pinching myself that our dream is finally turning into reality. Seeing the fencing go up and the builders going in is just fantastic. We are so grateful to all of our supporters and funders and we are really looking forward to next year when the cinema becomes a living breathing fixture in Highland Perthshire's arts and culture landscape.”

The Friends of
 The Birks Cinema Group achieved its fundraising target early in 2012. Perthshire firm Hadden Construction Ltd, based in Aberuthven, is the contractor. The contract was awarded after securing funding from The Big Lottery Fund at the beginning of February to fill the funding gap and a period of due diligence by the other principal funder, the Scottish Rural Development Programme, in early April.

Scott Hadden, Chairman of Hadden Construction commented: “As a local contractor we are delighted to be appointed to bring The Birks Cinema back to life and deliver what will be a fantastic facility for Aberfeldy.”

Other developments include the appointment of Kevin Ramage, owner of local business The Watermill, as the Project Manager for the refurbishment project. He will be working as a volunteer, representing the FoTBC with the building team and local architect Robin Baker. A Finance Co-ordinator, Angela Hanvey, has also been appointed to ensure that the £1.4m grant funds are efficiently managed.

The cinema is scheduled for completion and opening in the Spring of 2013.

For further information go to www.birkscinemafriends.org.uk or visit the Facebook site on http://www.facebook.com/friendsofthebirkscinema

A regular Blog on the website will also update on progress. Additional photos, architectural plans, business plans and a 'virtual tour' of the new facility can also be found on the website.

Press photos of Charlotte Flower are available from baxter.george@gmail.com

Media contact: 07748 446 954

Background:
Local people formed the Friends of the Birks Cinema group in 2006 after the old cinema building, which was built in 1939, had lain empty for some time. The group was formally constituted as a registered charity in 2009. A substantial breakthrough was made in the same yearwhen major funding was provided by the Town Centre Regeneration Fund and others to the tune of £332,909. This allowed the purchase and weatherproofing of the building, and the creation of the architectural plans and development of the business case. Since then, various trusts and funding bodies have committed funds including the SRDP award of £658,520 in early 2011, the Scottish Hydro Griffin Wind Farm Community Fund award of £100,000, the Creative Scotland award of £100,000, and £224,500 sourced from a number of additional local, regional and national funders. Direct local fundraising has contributed around
 an additional £80,000. The Big Lottery Fund awarded the project £539,950 under its Growing Community Assets programme. The
 award was hugely significant because it not only achieved the group's
 fundraising target, but also provides some revenue support over the first five years to give the project a substantial 'jump start'.

The FoTBC has increased its membership significantly over recent months and it now stands at over 450. Successful local events included the Big B raffle, a ‘postcard’ auction and the Big B Concert. The Aberfeldy Watermill also generously donated £10,000. Sales of sponsored seats now stands at £38,000, including £11,000 from local distillers Dewar’s – and there are still seats available for sponsorship.