The Regal Cinema building in Lichfield. Pic: Elliott Brown

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The Regal Cinema building in Lichfield. Pic: Elliott Brown
Campaigners hoping to restore Lichfield’s Regal Cinema to its former glory have revealed that it could take up to £3million to achieve their aims. But despite the size of the task the group still remain determined to explore the opportunity to redevelop the site. The meeting was told that the company which had planned to transform the building into a hotel had pulled out of a deal and that the owners would not object to it being used as an arts centre of film venue. The organisers of the group admitted that any transformation would be a long term scheme. “This is a massive project,” a spokesperson admitted. “If the funding was there, the building could be converted potentially in 12 months. “However, this will realistically be longer given financial restrictions.” The group say they are now looking into funding sources as well as identify figures and partnerships who could advise on any restoration work. They are also working towards a smaller initial fundraising target to help them put together a plan, feasibility study and initial publicity for their cause. “We need to communicate the idea that this project is not just about having a cinema in Lichfield,” a spokesperson added. “It is about having a venue for community film and arts for the whole community. “The project also has the potential to re-invigorate the city centre and bring in tourism. “The Regal would be a big attraction, bringing in new visitors to this historic building which would serve as a real arts hub in the city centre. “The project is about using a building from Lichfield’s heritage for the purpose for which it was intended rather than letting it lie derelict, dragging down the reputation and image of that area of the centre. “Imagine how that area would be revitalised by a restored Regal Arts Complex.” For more information visit the Restore the Regal Cinema Facebook group.

Ross

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

17 replies on “Group’s plan to restore Lichfield’s Regal Cinema could cost £3million”

  1. I don’t think there is a need for a new arts centre…the garrick itself i an arts center and constantly expanding. All of the local arts groups have not complained about the theater and the artistic policy clearly states the garrick is their home. I think by all means there is space for a cinema in lichfield but I don;t understand the need for a new performance space. Its financially risky, the Garrick is pulling in more and more decent groups and is constantly expanding it’s projects now it is free to do so after restrictions caused by being owned by the council.

    Compare it to stoke on trent which has The regent theatre, the stoke rep, the Mitchel arts centre and locally the new vic theatre. Both the Mitchell and Stoke rep theater are nowhere near full audience capacity and their what’s on is few and far between.

    If i was an investor I would say it’s too risky. As a arts centre anyway.

  2. “steve appleyard” Are you in a position to pay an economical rent for part of the site? If you are I would guess they would consider a financial offer.
    I have no connection with the group but suggest you contact them.

  3. Or alternatively it could host a succession of old cover bands and lady boys. Oh hang on, we’ve already got the wunderbar Garrick for that. Do we all still contribute to the rent there?

  4. Why must everyone settle for a faceless multiplex and leave this historic property rotting and open to grabbing as a hotel or some other unnecessary business as was attempted before?

    You must appreciate that it’s been one meeting. One gathering of opinions, skills and ideas. There’s a lot of work to do, a lot of options to explore. Just give it a chance? Provide ideas, constructive feedback.

    If people want to get involved, contact the Facebook group, see the website and provide any information you can to help. I know the group would appreciate it.

  5. I say good luck to the project.

    Obviously securing the finances and then running it on a sustainable level will be the biggest challenge, however if they can pull it off a renovated Regal would be a fantastic addition for the city.

    We’d have a landmark building with a wonderful art deco facade.

    The Regal, wouldn’t be in direct competition with a new multiplex for the latest 3D Superhero movies but offering more art house or classic movies. There are plenty of good movies being made looking for screens. It could also offer a more involved experience by tapping into the conventions market or bringing in actors, film makers etc to discuss the movies before screening.

    If there is an arts space it does not necessarily have to compete with the Garrick; stand up comedy (the monthly George night aside), jazz, local rock bands etc are woefully underrepresented in Lichfield and could be housed in some way at the Regal.

    I don’t know if the group have considered this but if they should build into the plans the ability to turn the screen and other rooms into conference areas so they can tap into the corporate market to help on the revenue side.

    It may be not much more than a dream at this stage but if you don’t try….

  6. “Dozens of film buffs attended a public meeting at the Guildhall ” including our Michael – back in 2007? – have todays group contacted the older group to see how they are getting on?

  7. With the success of Debenhams could we not have another department store like house of fraser and make lichfield a shopping haven for the area? With the arts lichfield already has together with the cathedral, events, festivals and restaurants, this would really transform lichfield in to a thriving town and drive shoppers, eaters and theatre goers to the area.

  8. If it was done a bit like the Electric in Birmingham or some of the new arthouse style cinemas in London it would be brilliant.

  9. @Graeme (+ others)

    It’s early days yet and there are lots of suggestions about what the building could house as part of its regeneration.

    One thing is clear, a cinema would not support itself; a combined building that housed exhibitions (for some reason people have latched onto arts, which is not the case) a cinema, tea rooms, community rooms and some retail space. This is not an exhaustive list, but I thought it better to try and pass some information on.

    With regards to your suggestion of retail, with so many shop units standing empty in Lichfield it’s not something I’d be keen to support.

    If anyone has visited The Electric in Birmingham, you’ll know what a wonderful venue it is.

    I reiterate, it is very, very early days. The group that met are thrashing out what the aims of the regeneration project would be and how to go about achieving those aims. We need the support of the Lichfield community and that is only going to come if people can get onboard and believe it is something they want and need for the people of the city.

    You can monitor our progress or even get involved by visiting the Facebook page (link in the main article) the website or by following us on Twitter.

  10. I can’t agree with you Graeme, sorry. Lichfield can’t become another department store city. Independent traders and small businesses need support. I don’t want another dull, copycat high street. I’d just move back North to where I’m from if I want that. Lichfield needs to harness and take a different path.

    Electric cinema is brilliant, definitely a good model to look at.

  11. “Let’s hope this venture is given the council support it deserves.”

    You have seen how many people are probably being sacked so we can pay for the “Garrick” – how many do you suggest we sack to pay for £3m OR £4M needed to pay for this?

  12. It’s a nice idea but without being underwritten by grants it’s clearly not viable. How many cinema tickets and boxes of popcorn would need to be sold to cover the borrowing on £3million in a town that does not have the footfall?
    Turning it into some multi purpose art venue would only encroach on the Garrick which already struggles to make ends meet. I keep hearing about Lichfield being the ‘Covent Garden’ of the Midlands. The building could be converted into an indoor market at much less cost and the first floor could be sub-let to anyone prepared to put up the money for a cinema.

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