Boutique cinema opens

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A boutique cinema at the Roxburgh Entertainment Centre is the culmination of many years of community effort.

The small 14-seat cinema called “The Attic” has opened its doors at the locally run venue on Scotland St.

Committee member Gaynor Crabbe said the not-for-profit facility was run by the community and the new boutique cinema would complement the 258-seat auditorium, used for concerts and events as well as cinema screenings.

A visit to a boutique cinema in Dunedin in about 2007 gave Mrs Crabbe the idea to suggest a similar venue at the entertainment centre.

An upgrade in 1998 had left an empty space on the second level next to the cinema projection room, which at first the committee thought they would use as a meeting room. However, it did not get used.

Mrs Crabbe’s idea was given a boost after the Christchurch earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.

Seats from the former Moorhouse Ave cinema were offered to the committee free, provided it could organise transport.

Several years of progress followed, with many in the community helping with parts of the project, including creating a tiered platform for the seats, plastering, painting, lighting and carpets.

“The sound system was donated to us,” Mrs Crabbe said.

It has taken some time, but now it is completed the committee is looking forward to finding different ways the space can be used.

Committee member Annie Kennedy said ideas put forward included screening “art house” movies, documentaries and nostalgic favourites.

“It is actually a really lovely intimate experience.”

Ms Kennedy was planning to run a poll and get community contribution “to get a sense of what they want to see”.

There was also discussion about enabling the space to be hired for private parties.

“We are still shaping what that looks like.”

A drinks licence for the boutique cinema was being explored.

“We are in talks with the council at the moment about sorting out the licence so we can sit here with a glass of wine.” Ms Kennedy said.

The committee is gathering evidence for an official claim to the Guinness Book of Records that the facility is the “longest continuously running cinema in the world”. It opened in 1897.

Stand for `God Save the Queen’…Roxburgh Entertainment Centre committee member Annie Kennedy holds up a slide that used to play before the featured attraction at the Roxburgh Entertainment Centre. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON