The long, and often controversial, saga of the Solas Arthouse Picture Palace Cinema has taken a step closer to completion with the announcement that the Government has provided additional funding of €735,000 towards the project.
The funding is being allocated by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys to Galway City Council in a partnership between the Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Solas Picture Palace Limited. The Department of Arts has to date provided €1.9 million for the cinema which has been plagued with delays and setbacks since construction began in 2009.
The €735,000 grant, which is being allocated to the Galway City Council, will project manage the venture and is to “ensure the completion” of the cinema. According to Fine Gael senator Hildegarde Naughton, while the exterior of the building is finished, it will take some €2.6 million to complete the project internally. €1.5 million of this is available to the Picture Palace, leaving a shortfall of €1.1 million. However she welcomed the Government grant, saying she had been assured it “will go most of the way towards bridging the outstanding funding gap”. It is also understood City Hall will contribute to the completion of the project.
Fine Gael Galway West TD and chair of the Fine Gael Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Committee, Seán Kyne, also welcomed the grant. He said it is “a major boost to Galway’s creative economy” and that a completed Picture Palace will strengthen the city’s bid to become European Capital of Culture 2020.
Labour Galway West TD Derek Nolan said that when complete, the cinema will be “a key piece of Galway’s cultural offering”. “The Picture Palace has suffered setbacks over the years,” he said, “but it is only right we finish what was started. Congratulations in particular to Lelia Doolin and Tracey Geraghty who kept the energy and faith over the years to see this project through - for the benefit of all Galwegians.”
The Solas Picture Palace was designed by architect Tom de Paor, with a window by the late Patrick Scott. It will be a three-screen cinema, and will have a cafe and bookshop.