Penarth Pier Pavilion Cinema is to re-open in September and the Pavilion itself is to resume 6-days-a-week operation “from the middle of the summer”.
The re-opening of the Pavilion and Pavilion Cinema comes after a period of intense public pressure on the less-than-competent company/charity which holds a 125 lease on the building – Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd.
[The Pavilion had been refurbished in 2013 and a brand new digital cinema and cafe created inside – at a cost of £4,200,000 – all from public money – but from March 6th this year the Pavilion was arbitrarily closed on three days each week and the cinema shut down indefinitely]
The chairman of Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd (a.k.a. PACL), Professor Tony Hazell, has now publicly admitted that his firm has not run Penarth Pier Pavilion in a “sustainable way “.
Professor Hazell has told BBC News that the company had opened the pavilion after its £4,200,000 refurbishment in 2013 on what he called “full throttle“, operating the building 7-days-a-week, 12-hours-a-day, 362 days a year and says “It probably wouldn’t be sustainable on a commercial basis, let alone a charity one“.
Prof. Hazell says the decision to close the cinema – the only one on a pier in the UK – was taken after figures from previous years showed it “did not attract as many visitors in the summer months”.
He told the BBC that the Pavilion itself was closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays because it was “not making enough money to cover costs”.
Following a grant of a further £126,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the business has now been reviewed and Professor Hazell has told the BBC that “ the Pavilion and its cafe will re-open either 5 or 6 days a week from the middle of the summer” – but would probably remain closed every Monday.
Professor Hazell also now says the integral Pavilion Cinema will open again from September “if not before”.
He says “We are now looking for new ideas about how to raise more revenue. At the end of the day, this building is run as a charity and people don’t really donate as much to a building as they might to an animal charity. We only have a small team of paid staff and we rely a lot on volunteers. But, yes, we will survive.”
Local resident Andrew Jones who has spearheaded the campaign to get the Pavilion Cinema re-opened says he does not have any faith in Penarth Arts and Crafts Ltd and criticises what he describes as “a complete wall of silence” from the company .
He also casts doubt on Professor Hazell’s assertion that there were lower audiences in the cinema in the summer . He says “I certainly don’t believe cinema attendances fell that much in the summer.”
Vale of Glamorgan Council, says it has “provided significant amounts of both financial and professional support” to PACL. This included £800,000 of council-tax payers’ money towards the Pavilion renovation and a further £100,000 grant to PACL in its first year of trading.
The Vale Council says it has continued to provide professional support since them to help PACL “improve their approach to business planning and financial management Having supported them to such an extent the council is keen to see the organisation flourish and to continue to provide facilities that we know are greatly valued by the local community.“.