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"It was a disaster from the word go": Curtain finally set to rise on Galway's Picture Palace

The art cinema has been in the pipeline since 2009.

picture palace - 2 The Picture Palace in Galway Source: Picture Palace

AFTER BEING IN the works for the part of a decade and running well over budget, Galway’s controversial Picture Palace finally looks set for completion.

Building work on the project kicked off back in 2009, and in 2013 its planners projected that it had the potential to create 34 full-time jobs in the local area, with a cash injection into economy through wages of somewhere in the region of €1.95 million.

Today Minister for Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Heather Humphreys has confirmed that the Department will be providing a cash injection of €255,000 to get the project over the line.

Element Pictures – the Dublin-based production film company responsible for feature-length productions The Lobster and Room – will be taking over the management, completion and operation of the venue in conjunction with Galway City Council.

Element Pictures also operate Dublin’s Lighthouse Cinema.

The long road to completion 

Originally planned to cost around €6.2 million, the venue’s long road to completion has been hit by a number of setbacks with final spending on it believed to be close to €9 million.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie Galway City Councillor Pádraig Conneely described the project as “a disaster from the word go”.

The management of the project, originally in the hands of Solas Pictures, was handed over to Galway City Council in May as a condition of €735,000 worth of completion funding provided by the Department.

“It’s a sad and sorry saga,” said Conneely.

“There is a new contractor in there now and they have commenced work on it and they are going to complete it now so we’re hoping it’ll be open by next March,” he went on.

Funding for the project has come from a variety of sources including Element Pictures; Department of Arts, Heritage Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs; Galway City Council; Solas Galway Picture Palace Ltd, the company originally behind the project; and a number of smaller contributors.

picture palace - 3 Source: Picture Palace

The money handed over today will bring the amount contributed to the project by the Department to around €2.7 million.

Galway City Council – which owns the site of the cinema – has contributed around €2.5 million.

Galway was awarded the Unesco City of Film status back in 2014 with representatives from Picture Palace involved in the bid.

Speaking today, Minister Heather Humphreys said:

Taxpayers have invested significantly in the Picture Palace since the project first started and it has not been without its challenges. The priority now must be to bring the project to completion for the benefit of Galway residents, visitors and film enthusiasts.
When completed, the Picture Palace will be a state-of-the-art cinema located close to the historic Spanish Arch and just a stone’s throw from the Mick Lally Theatre (Druid).

Read: Fianna Fáil councillor slams arthouse cinema as ‘huge waste of taxpayer money’

Also: This Irish documentary about fishing and oil is making people angry

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