The Solas Art House Cinema, beset by difficulties and delays since construction first began in 2009, has received a lifeline from Galway City Council with councillors unanimously agreeing this week to approve final additional funding of €200,000.
The motion, which was proposed by Cllr Colette Connolly (Lab ), was given approval at last Monday’s council meeting and will see the Solas Art House Cinema at 15 Lower Merchants Road being given the additional €200,000 - allocated in €50,000 instalments - over a four year period starting in 2014, to enable its completion.
However, the funding is contingent on the art house committee receiving written confirmation from the Western Development Commission that a bridging loan of €200,000 will be granted. It was confirmed yesterday that following a meeting the WDC has approved that bridging loan - this is in addition to original funding of €650,000 given by WDC at the outset of the project.
At the meeting, Cllr Connolly said although she had criticised the road closure on Dock Road for the duration of the project, she had “never faulted the people behind” the project. Noting that the issue of the road closure had not been highlighted to councillors when the site was given over to Solas in 2008, Cllr Connolly added “at least the end is in sight and the road is scheduled to be reopened at the end of May”. The three screen cinema with 328 seats is due to reopen in early 2014.
Cllr Connolly said that Solas has already received a substantial amount of tax payers money by way of the €1.8 million site given by the council, however, she felt the project which has suffered a number of setbacks cannot be allowed to fail now. Cllr Connolly further said that it was the objective of the City Development Plan to address the major infrastructural arts deficit in the city and the art cinema will address this in part.
Galway City Council acquired the site for the Art House Cinema at a cost of approximately €1.8 million and donated it by way of a long term lease in 2008 for the development of the facility. Following a public tender process, initial construction began in autumn 2009 and was halted in spring 2011 due to the insolvency of the contractor. The project was then re-tendered in autumn 2011, construction resumed on site in March 2012 and is due to be completed in Autumn this year. The councillors were told on Monday that there is shortfall in funding and this is needed to bring the project to completion. To bridge the gap the company has obtained commitment of €400,00 from Bord Scannán na hÉireann. Now, with Galway City Council granting €200,000 it is hoped that a further €200,000 will be raised from the Galway business community and €300,000 from private sector fundraising.