Scotland Loves Local Creative Town Award
Winner: Montrose Playhouse Project
The team behind the creation of a community cinema in Montrose’s derelict former swimming pool has been honoured for its creativity, commitment and blockbuster success.
Montrose Playhouse was presented with the Creative Town Award at the 2022 Scotland Loves Local Awards after judges heard about the vision and determination that brought the £3.5m transformation to life.
Little over a year after its opening, the three-screen cinema is closing in on 100,000 admissions – with the venue creating about 30 jobs, including a number of apprenticeships.
One award nomination stated: “Montrose Playhouse is a truly inspiring story of a town pulling together to improve its facilities and regenerate a derelict building.
“This was built by the community, for the community. Montrose Playhouse Project SCIO was brought to life by a group of local volunteers who felt the town needed a cinema.
“The cinema itself is stunning, with lots of remnants of the old pool within it, which resonates with the locals who used it for more than 60 years.”
The Creative Town Award was sponsored by Creative Scotland.
Montrose Playhouse Venue Manager Matt Buchanan said: “This is fantastic – a real vindication of the dedication, hard work, blood, sweat and tears which has gone into getting this project off the ground and over the line because it hasn’t always been an easy ride.
“This will help us put Montrose culturally on the map in Scotland.”
Opened in October 2021, the transformation – which took 10 years and included a £1 community asset transfer of the building from Angus Council to bring to fruition – featured a DIY SOS-style operation which saw more than 80 locals strip the building back to a shell.
As well as its three screens, the Playhouse is made up of a cafe bar, retail space and community activity rooms. It also hosts events such as pre-loved school uniform markets while offering fruit and veg as part of a weekly foyer market which gives access to provide healthy food at a low cost, subsidised by the venue’s profits.
“The Playhouse is more than just a cinema for our community,” award judges were told.
The runners-up in the category were Aberdeen Inspired and its Nuart Festival, alongside The Wasps Trust, Inverness.
Runners - Up
Aberdeen Inspired – Nuart Festival
The Wasps Trust, Inverness