Curtain goes up for historic cinema plan

New Picture House Cinema.

New Picture House Cinema.

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A group of film fans has opened an independent cinema, harking back to days gone by when small picture houses were aplenty in small Yorkshire market towns.

It may be 20 years since the last cinema closed its doors in Dewsbury, but now the New Picture House, a not-for-profit community cinema, complete with comfortable vintage velvet theatre seats, is screening films.

Its paying audience can even have a say in what is shown.

The last cinema in the town closed in the mid 1990s as multiplexes emerged and the new venture now screens every fortnight and has plans to show 10 films in its new spring/summer season, from next month.

The group has secured arts funding and converted a floor of Yorkshire House, an old, vandalised office building in the centre of Dewsbury for the venture and has been playing to packed houses with its 54 seats fully booked.

Chantelle Stewart, of the New Picture House, said: “It was founded by people who are passionate about film culture and the potential that the cinema experience has to entertain, excite, inform, and delight.

“We renovated the property and are supported by local and regional businesses through sponsorship and donations, by member subscriptions and ticket sales.”

The cinema, with a licensed bar, is constructed around 54 red velvet theatre seats reclaimed from Dewsbury Little Theatre.

The New Picture House is also a member of the British Federation of Film Societies.

Chantelle added: “We have screened 10 films as part of our Winter season and a further 10 films will be screened from early May 2013. We’re also hosting a number of other special screenings including more family films and possibly Saturday matinees.”

Dewsbury’s picture houses defined the cultural landscape of the town throughout the mid-twentieth century. However, the last of Dewsbury’s cinemas closed in the mid-1990s in the town centre.

PLANS

The collective says the vision for the New Picture House is to celebrate that history and help return a distinctive experience of film to Dewsbury.

In 2013, they will present three seasons of 10 screenings: Winter, Spring, Autumn. The year will culminate in September with the inaugural Dewsbury Film Festival.

There will also be an exhibition by local landscape painter Bruce Mulcahy and a month-long residency by Kirklees College photography students.

For more details, log on to www.newpicturehouse.com

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