By May 2014 Galway city will finally have its long awaited art house cinema, with construction of the Solas Picture Palace now at an advanced stage.
On Monday the Galway Advertiser was given a tour around the site. The box office is the first thing audiences will see, located in an open space which forms an entranceway into the main building itself.
Inside, the various levels and rooms are connected by a series of staircases which weave throughout the building, and walls which turn at sudden angles, and featuring windows which overlook the streets outside, and sections of the cinema inside. In this it is similar in design to the new wing at the National Gallery in Dublin. The windows will be designed and patterned by the artist Pat Scott.
Even at this stage, the feel of the building is very modern and good use has been made of the narrow space within which it needs to be built.
The cinema screens are located throughout three floors, with the main 177 seat cinema located underground - an appropriate location in which to screen Arthouse films. Two other cinema screens - one for 69 people, the other for 82 - are located at higher levels. There will also be a café, a bar, and toilets. There will be disabled access through lifts.
Monday also saw the launch of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, the cinema’s latest fundraising drive in association with the Galway Chamber of Commerce and the Picture Palace.
Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? will be a gala ball, to be held in the Radisson Blu Hotel on Friday November 8, starting at 7pm with a drinks reception. The guest of honour will be Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D. Higgins.
Lelia Doolan, chair of the board of the Picture Palace, has promised that there will be a number of celebrity special guests on the night.
“Even if Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are not available to join us - they’re dining in heaven,” she said, “and even if Sidney Poitier, at 86, is dining at home, there are still many delightful celebrities, from home and abroad, to meet and enjoy on November 8.”
Galway Chamber president Jim Fennell said the Picture Palace will be “a magnificent new cultural facility for the city” that “will also be a vibrant addition to Galway’s business life”.
The ball is being sponsored by HC Financial Advisors. Hannah Kiely, CEO of HC Financial Advisers, said: “It is an opportunity for us to highlight our funding of the Irish Film Industry through Section 481 film tax relief, having raised over €100 millions to date. This partnership is testament to HC’s commitment to the film industry, to Galway’s businesses, its culture, and its community.”
The gala ball is a black tie event and will include dinner, entertainment, and celebrity guests. Tickets are €140 and available from the Galway Chamber through [email protected] chamber.com or 091 - 563536.