Gathering support for St Leonards cinema

Brookers, Norman Road,closed down last year
Brookers, Norman Road,closed down last year
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A GROUP hoping to restore a former cinema to create a community hub are mobilising support as the building comes up for sale.

Following the closure of Brookers Builders Merchants, in Norman Road, the Friends of the Kinema Palace are gearing up to raise funds to purchase the building, which was the first purpose-built cinema in St Leonards.

The aim is to combine the old with the new to create a high quality community resource, almost exactly 100 years since the Kinema Palace first opened its doors in 1913.

The asking price has not yet been confirmed, though it could be around the £500,000 mark.

The group, which includes the St Leonards Film Society, and other local creatives, hopes to raise the funds to buy the building, and apply for grants and lottery funding to get the building up and running.

Dawn Dublin, secretary of the St Leonards Film Society, said: “We need all the help we can get with running this.

“It will take a whole community to pull this off.”

The original domed auditorium is still intact, and the plan is to restore the cinema to its former glory.

However, operating as a social enterprise, it would be much more than just a cinema.

There would be space for theatre groups, and comedy performances, and also rooms for flexible use such as for workshops and training sessions, and even a yoga studio.

A restaurant and cafe would also be on the cards.

Dawn said: “This is about creating a home for so many different groups who have no way of expressing their creativity properly.”

The friends are also keen to attract groups and performers from out of town.

The Kinema Palace was initially built with seats for 650 people and was later enlarged and renamed the Curzon in 1952.

However by the 1960s, audiences were dwindling, and the cinema closed in 1977.

The building was then bought by Brookers, the builders’ merchants next door.

Brookers went into administration at the end of last year.

Anyone who would like to support the Friends of the Kinema Palace can get find out more about the project and get involved by emailing info@stleonardsfilmsoc.co.uk or visiting www.facebook.com/FriendsOfTheKinemaPalace.

A website is to be launched soon.