Article: Emergency funding to secure the immediate future of Scotland’s Independent Cinemas

The Scottish Government has announced over £3.5 million of funding to independent cinemas in Scotland.

The Birks Cinema in Aberfeldy, Campbeltown Picture House and Regional Screen Scotland’s mobile cinema, the Screen Machine, are among 30 independent cinemas and two touring operators serving communities across Scotland to receive £3.55million from the Scottish Government’s Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund and The National Lottery, through Screen Scotland.

The Fund, which aims to bridge the immediate financial gap faced by independently owned cinemas as a result of COVID-19, will now support these cinemas who can operate in the short-term, within Scottish Government guidelines, and help others towards reopening, when it is safe to do so.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture said: “We understand the severe impact this pandemic has had on businesses across Scotland, including our independent cinemas which play such an important role in communities across the country.

“We have had to make some really difficult decisions recently that will impact on cinemas which have worked so hard to re-open safely, but we have to put health considerations above everything else and I hope this funding, along with the business support that will be available, will help independent cinemas cope with all the challenges they face.

“Culture is vitally important to all of our lives, and we are determined to do everything within our powers to see the sector through this crisis. This fund is part of the ongoing financial support the Scottish Government is making available to the sector.”

Sambrooke Scott, Head of Audience Development at Screen Scotland said: “Independent cinemas have always played a vital role in communities across Scotland, bringing people together to immerse themselves in great film experiences from filmmakers around the world, and around the corner.

“It’s been the most challenging of times for these hard-working venues but, with the help of this Scottish Government and National Lottery support, they will continue to open and operate safely as local restrictions allow. By putting stringent measures in place to protect staff and audiences alike they will open where able and bring the magic and escapism of cinema back, which is something we need now more than ever.”

Brian Hawkins from The Birks Cinema said: “The Birks Cinema, a community owned space in Highland Perthshire, is grateful for the funding received this week from Creative Scotland. Even without the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 it has been a challenging time for cinemas nationally.

“We have managed to fare better than many others and for that we are grateful to both our wonderful community who have supported us in amazing ways in recent months, and to our funders including Screen Scotland. This funding allows us to implement some very exciting plans to sustain the Birks Cinema as a major community asset and resource for Highland Perthshire.”

Robert Livingston, Director at Regional Screen Scotland said: “The Independent Cinema Recovery Fund is a crucial measure to help to sustain cinemas across Scotland.  At Regional Screen Scotland we’re very grateful for this support, as it will allow us to begin touring again with the Screen Machine, by compensating for the box office income lost through the need to maintain 2m physical distancing. This means we can bring at least some Christmas cheer to many smaller communities in the Highlands.”

Recipients of the Fund are:


Cinema Name

Funding Amount

An Lanntair

An Lanntair (Stornoway)


Caledonian Cinemas Limited

Moray Playhouse (Elgin)


Campbeltown Community Business

Campbeltown Picture House (Campbeltown)


Centre for the Moving Image

Filmhouse (Edinburgh), Belmont Filmhouse (Aberdeen)


D&G Council

Robert Burns Centre (Dumfries)


Dundee Contemporary Arts

Dundee Contemporary Arts


Eden Court Highlands

Eden Court (Inverness)


Falkirk Community Trust

Bo’ness Hippodrome (Falkirk)


G1 Group

Perth Playhouse


Glasgow Film Theatre

Glasgow Film Theatre


Granada Cinemas (Edinburgh) Ltd.

Dominion Cinema (Edinburgh)


INDY Cinema Group Ltd

INDY Cinema Group (Various)


Kino Entertainment Ltd

The Kino Leven, The Kino Glenrothes


Lonsdale Cinema

Annan Lonsdale Cinema



Macrobert (Stirling)


Newton Stewart Cinema

Newton Stewart Cinema (Newton Stewart)


NPH Cinema

New Picture House (St Andrews)


Oban Phoenix Cinema

Oban Phoenix Cinema (Oban)


Pavilion (Galashiels) Ltd

Pavilion (Galashiels)


Premier Leisure

Premier Leisure (Saltcoats)


Regional Screen Scotland

Screen Machine (Various)


Shetland Arts Development Agency

Mareel (Lerwick)


The Birks Cinema Trust Ltd

The Birks Cinema (Aberfeldy)


The Pickaquoy Centre Trust

The Phoenix Cinema (Kirkwall)


The Tower Digital Art Centre

The Tower Digital Arts Centre (Helensburgh)


Universal Sounds (Arbroath) Limited

Bathgate Cinema, Alloa Cinema, Arbroath Cinema


West Coast Cinemas LLP

Studio Cinema (Dunoon), Waterfront Cinema (Greenock)



Eligibility criteria and application guidelines for the £3.5million Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund were published on Monday 14 September with a deadline of Monday 5 October.

There were 27 applications with an ask of £3.55million on the £3.5million Fund therefore £50K of National Lottery funds through the Screen Scotland Audience Development Fund were added to the fund.

The Independent Cinema Recovery and Resilience Fund is one of a series of emergency funds from the Scottish Government and The National Lottery being delivered by Screen Scotland, to help mitigate the immediate impacts of COVID-19 on Scotland’s film and tv sector:

  • £1.5million National Lottery funding through Screen Scotland’s Bridging Bursary which opened to applications from Fri 27 Mar to Wed 20 May reached 681 screen sector freelancers.
  • £700K Screen element of the Scottish Government’s Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers opened for applications from Tues 22 Sept to Fri 2 Oct. Assessments are taking place and decisions being communicated to applicants.
  • The Scottish Government’s £12.5million Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund has reached venues including those offering cinema provision: An Lanntair (Stornoway), Eden Court Theatre (Inverness) and the Macrobert Arts Centre (Stirling).

The Hardship Fund for Creative Freelancers and Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund form part of the Scottish Government’s £59million emergency funding for Culture and Heritage announced on Friday 28 August from the £97million in UK Government consequentials for the culture and heritage sectors.

More information about COVID-19 funding and resources can be accessed via, and through Screen Scotland’s Resource Directory for COVID-19.

The National Lottery has raised more than £41 billion for more than 565,000 good causes across the UK since 1994. Thanks to National Lottery players, up to £600 million has been made available to support people, projects and communities throughout the UK during the Coronavirus crisis.

Screen Scotland is the dedicated partnership for screen in Scotland. Sitting within Creative Scotland, it is a partnership with Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Skills Development Scotland, Scottish Funding Council, working in close collaboration with the sector to ensure its success. With funding from Scottish Government and The National Lottery, Screen Scotland is driving the cultural, social and economic development of all aspects of the sector in Scotland, through enhanced funding, services and support. Learn more about us, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

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