Futurist bites the dust

Futurist Cinema, Scarborough, North Yorkshire (September 2013)

Futurist Cinema, Scarborough, North Yorkshire (September 2013)

Reputedly the largest remaining single-screen cinema auditorium in Britain, with 2,150 seats, the Futurist Cinema, Scarborough closed its doors on Sunday January 5th 2014:  http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/general-news/scarborough-s-futurist-theatre-closes-as-saviour-is-sought-1-6354622.

It was built in 1921 to designs by Frank Tugwell. The stage was first extended for live performances in 1957 and two years later the proscenium was widened.

In 1968, when the stage-area was further enlarged by the impresario Robert Luff to accommodate The Black and White Minstrel Show, the elaborate classical white faience façade was hidden behind plain cladding which has not worn well.

The chartered surveyor Mark Rothery described the building as “past the point of saving for refurbishment” in 2010, and English Heritage has twice declined to list it.

The Borough Council’s report by Kate Wafer and Jennifer Hadley (March 2013) identified these practical disadvantages to the building:

* small stage in relation to the size of the auditorium
* small box-office and bar-areas in relation to the size of the auditorium
* inadequate wing-space
* limited backstage get-in
* small orchestra pit

The lessee since 2002, Barrie Stead, estimated that refurbishment would cost at least £5 million, and regeneration would need at least £250,000 pa revenue subsidy.

Its owners, Scarborough Borough Council, promised to mothball the building for three months to allow the Save Our Futurist campaign [https://www.facebook.com/savethefuturist and http://www.savethefuturist.co.uk/contact/4580371634] to present a £3 million business plan to regenerate the existing auditorium:  http://www.thestage.co.uk/news/2014/01/scarborough-council-close-futurist-theatre-operator-negotiations-fail.

Despite the submission of a 4,000-signature petition in November 2013, no-one could produce a practical plan for the site as an alternative to the Council’s plans for demolition and redevelopment.  An apparently separate e-petition shows 870 signatures:  http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/news/main-topics/general-news/scarborough-s-futurist-theatre-closes-as-saviour-is-sought-1-6354622.

Eventually, in 2018, the Futurist was demolished at a cost of £4.2 million.

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