AN OPERATOR for the Bognor Regis cinema has been chosen after months of talks.
The Picturedrome Electric Theatre Company – the current tenant – has been selected by Bognor Regis Town Council to run the venue for the next 25 years.
The long-term agreement secures the future of the two-screen building.
Adam Cunard, the company’s managing director, said: “I am very much looking forward to developing and improving the cinema and its facilities now I have the security of tenure I had hoped for.
“I would like to thank the people of Bognor for their unwavering support. The cinema is the people’s building now and I am very proud to be entrusted to run it. I promise to do all I can to make it a venue for all to enjoy.”
Town clerk Glenna Frost said the council was pleased to be working with Mr Cunard and his staff.
“The decision to purchase the Picturedrome was a momentous decision by the town council as it is the first building they have owned and came about in response to the strength of public feeling about the building.
“The councillors were determined to retain this important part of the town’s history and community.
“But, obviously, there were many issues that needed to be addressed before the final lease could be signed,” she said.
The town council bought the Picturedrome for £440,000 last October after public alarm greeted plans in 209 by its previous owner to turn the main screen into flats.
The hostility prompted by this scheme ensured it failed to get beyond the planning stage. But the town council was spurred into action rather than risk losing the distinctive building with nearly 400 seats. Its purchase was soon followed by a selection process for an operator but took until Tuesday for a decision to be announced.
The uncertainty raised serious doubts about the future of the cinema as well as the nine staff who work there. Mr Cunard said those worries were now over, and thanked staff for their work.
He recently spent tens of thousands of pounds installing a digital projector in both screens to keep the Picturedrome up to date.
A Grade II listed building, which dates from 1885, it has been a cinema for 92 years.