Edinburgh’s Filmhouse is adapting its scheduled pre-planning public consultation in response to Coronavirus.

The bold new vision to create an internationally significant, fully accessible and environmentally sustainable landmark home for film and screen culture in Edinburgh has already secured over 150 responses through the Filmhouse and EIFF websites and more through other avenues of feedback.

Although Filmhouse is currently closed and Edinburgh International Film Festival has been postponed, it is hoped that people may find time to engage with a more digital-based consultation process in the coming weeks.

Information on the proposed development including architect drawings and visualisations, the background to the development and FAQs are available on Filmhouse’s website. People can feedback through a simple online survey on Filmhouse and EIFF websites.

The project team is currently creating a series of further digital resources which can be shared through Filmhouse and Edinburgh International Film Festival websites, social media and email. These resources will draw out different aspects of the building and its purpose responding to some questions emerging from the consultation feedback so far. The presentation planned for the public and members’ events will also be recorded and shared through the same digital channels.

The public consultation events, which have been postponed, were due to take place at Filmhouse on Sunday 29 March, Wednesday 1 April and Tuesday 28 April. The two Filmhouse Members’ Events were scheduled for Sunday 29 March and Monday 6 April. These events will not happen.

Filmhouse will continue to look at options for how people can engage with the consultation process, working with the City of Edinburgh Council’s Planning Department, and any updates will be posted on the Filmhouse website at www.filmhousecinema.com/future.

The team is doing its best in this current context to reach out to as wide a range of audiences, customers, interest groups and stakeholders, for example sharing information specifically to its Young Programmers and Senior Selections volunteers, and will be inviting people from organisations or networks representing special interests to attend video meetings to have more focused discussions about the designs.

Information on the proposed building:

The planned new Filmhouse building has been designed by award-winning Edinburgh based Richard Murphy Architects and will significantly improve and increase the quality and quantity of spaces available to and needed by Filmhouse and EIFF for their audiences, customers, participants and industry partners. It will create a hub for Edinburgh’s film and broader cultural community to base themselves in, and be a focal point for Edinburgh’s citizens to learn about film and filmmaking in all its diversity.

Filmhouse’s audiences have made it clear what they value and these have been built into the design: location, atmosphere, diversity of programme, education and learning activities, great locally sourced food and drink in the Café Bar, and a safe and comfortable space for people to gather. Most importantly, these will all be delivered to contemporary standards of access and comfort.

Filmhouse has been at the centre of Edinburgh’s cultural landscape for more than 40 years. As well as a year-round programme of inspiring films, creative learning, special events and partnership working, Filmhouse is home to the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), hosts more than 20 other film festivals, and plays a key role in promoting a vibrant and successful film and moving image industry and culture across Scotland. The new building will secure Filmhouse’s future for generations to come.

The new Filmhouse will:

  • Provide six new cinema screens allowing Filmhouse and EIFF to programme even more great films, festivals and partnership events.
  • Improve the audience experience with a world-class venue that is fully accessible for all, with comfortable seating and state-of-the-art facilities.
    Continue to screen film on all formats, including 4K digital, and 16mm, 35mm and 70mm film.
  • Ensure accessibility for all, with a commitment that all public and office spaces are fully accessible for audiences, staff and guests.
  • Increase Filmhouse’s education and outreach activity, with dedicated education spaces to host year-round activity for learners of all ages.
  • House Filmhouse’s award-winning Café Bar, which will be designed to retain the intimate and safe atmosphere of the existing space.
  • Create a brand-new Festival Centre to provide a venue to support EIFF and other festivals and special events year-round.
  • Introduce a new Cultural Industries hub, supporting the Scottish screen and broader cultural sector with much-needed flexible workspace in Edinburgh’s city centre.
  • Create a restaurant and rooftop event space.
  • Keep Filmhouse’s iconic character and atmosphere, in a new building that has been thoughtfully designed to represent its independent spirit and ethos.
  • Reduce impact on the environment by creating a building that will aim to produce net zero carbon emissions.
  • Increase financial sustainability, by creating greater capacity, diversifying sources of income generation, and becoming more self-sufficient over the longer term.

The oculus design reflects the eye on the world that Filmhouse, EIFF and the myriad of festivals, events and learning opportunities in the building will provide, whilst also providing a striking addition to Edinburgh’s architectural landscape.

Its location in Festival Square is designed to be the catalyst that brings to life a currently underused public space and as part of the development would place a responsibility on Filmhouse to manage the curation of activity within the surrounding square.

The architect drawings and visualisations for the new Filmhouse give people a good idea of the thinking on the position and shape of the building, and the spaces it would contain, however the design is still in development.

Filmhouse is looking to engage with customers, partners and stakeholders including programming partners, creative learning partners and the Scottish film sector, community councils and councillors, and residents of Edinburgh to gauge support for the plans and further develop the designs before submitting a formal Planning Application to the City of Edinburgh Council during the summer.

Full costing of the project will take place later in 2020 to coincide with the formal Planning Application, but the cost is currently estimated to be in the region of £50m.

An indicative timeline, contingent on the Planning Application decision and fundraising success, hopes to start work on the building in 2023 with it opening in 2025.

This project is led by CMI’s Board and Senior Management Team, with support from property consultancy Montagu Evans.

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