Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Solas Picture Palace back out to tender

The Solas cinema project in Galway has been put back out to tender following various setbacks since the sod was first turned on the site in July 2009. The new tender includes the demolition and reconstruction of a nearby building which, it was claimed, had been damaged during the course of the initial piling for the cinema.

Candidate contractors must first pass a selection procedure before being invited to tender or negotiate. Expressions of interest should be sent by mid-day, July 1st. Invitations to tender will then be issued on (approximately) August 8th.

There are 19 documents associated with the tender on the eTenders website along with further details on qualifying standards and how and where to register an interest in the tender notice.

Title - Construction of Cinema Building, Merchants Road, Galway
Description of the goods or services required - The works will comprise the demolition and re-construction of an existing dwelling on the corner Merchants Road, and the construction of a new four-storey over basement cinema building (total gross floor area approximately 1,150m2) to include 3No. cinemas comprising approximately 330 seats, cafe, bar, bookshop and ancillary facilities together with all associated external works including piled basement and all connections to existing mains services.

from my post about Solas on Jan 19:
The sources of funding I am aware of for the Galway project include, so far -
€2,000,000 ACCESS II (Dept Tourism Culture & Sport, 2007)
€ 1,960,000 Site value, 15 Lr Merchants Rd (Galway City Council, 2009)
€ 750,000 Cultural Cinema Consortium (Film Board/Arts Council, 2005)
€ 650,000 (loan) Western Development Commission, Investment Fund
€ 75,000 Irish Film Board (2007)
€ ?+
€6.5m (approx total)

(i) As of Nov. 2010 Solas had been paid €720,468 in 2009 and €143,642 in 2010 by the Dept. TC&S, presumably as instalments of the €2m ACCESS II capital grant;
(ii) the Arts Council annual accounts for 2008 show capital development grants under the Cultural Cinema heading of €70,000 for Solas Galway Picture Palace and €672,500 for Galway City Council.
(iii) An EC MEDIA Consultation (Oct/Dec 2009) on cinema digitisation states: "For example, in Galway, the local authority invested €2m in the purchase of a site to facilitate the building of a 3 screen arthouse cinema. The Arts Council and the Irish Film Board invested €1.25m; and the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism invested €2m. These investments were for the development of the cinema including fit-out and digital projection equipment."


Anonymous said...

This is a real scandal.

Look how c. € 6.5 million would completely transform grossly under-funded, and far more important cinema-related facilities and institutions; the Irish Film Archive is an example that immediately springs to mind.

Yet, we're often told there's "no money" to properly fund these genuine undertakings; on the other hand, if one wants to follow absurd, ideologically-driven white elephant construction schemes, there seems to be no shortage of finance.

There is considerable excess screen capacity in Galway already, and no reson why this could not be used to provide additional arthouse screenings. Also, the proposed building is appallingly badly designed, and in a local news report last year it was revealed that the project would create just three full-time jobs.

The State must cut its losses now and terminate what is essentially an ideologically-driven vanity project.

irish film portal said...

I have an open mind on Solas, although I do think the 'cultural cinema' notion is gravely flawed and not just because it was planned in very different times. At least it will not have to pay commercial rents (the undoing of The Light House) which is why the initial cost is so high.

A lot will depend on the originality and vitality of the programming at Solas and its ability to build and retain a very diverse audience.

The design will have to stand the test of user friendliness, functionality and durability, although externally it will stick out for a while at the end of what is projected to become Galway's new cultural hub. It featured as part of the Irish contribution to the Venice Biennale a few years back and seemed, to me, to be overly abstract for its intended use.

As regards screen capacity in Galway the existing screens are all slightly out from the centre of the city, the closest being the Omniplex I suppose. I imagine Solas could face competition for some titles with the Eye.

Anonymous said...

While we immorally waste what little public funds we have on "pork barrel" arts projects, far more deserving cases are forced to live on a shoestring; this public-domain document relating to the Irish Film Archive (again, just one example among many) makes for grim reading:

This is the true impact of Ireland's "Fur coat and no knickers" arts policy.

Anonymous said...

I was for the project initially but it's ridiculous how the building has just been left there for the last couple of months with no sign of any construction work taking place. They were supposed to be ready for this year's Film Fleadh but a friend who is involved with it said it could take at least two years before it's completely ready.

The fact they they've worked on it for four years and it's still nowhere near finished makes me completely skeptical about it tbh

irish film portal said...

My understanding is that because of a financial impasse, now resting on a sizeable legal/insurance claim, an arrangement is being made with a firm in the Uk/Ireland cinema trade to to take over completion of the project and to run the cinema.
I don't know if all the parties to the funding of Solas have agreed to this. Nor do I know what provisions are being made for local programming input, for the Fleadh's annual use of the cinema, for a time limit on thearrangement, or for any other parameters under which the firm running the cinema may have to operate.
If it turns out that the cinema shows a lot of titles getting a mainstream release (as has happened in the Light House - not the intended purpose of the public funding) then I imagine that existing cinema operators in Galway may voice concerns about what they may see as unfair (ie publicly funded) competition.

Anonymous said...

Seems like the local council are understandably getting frustrated with the lack of information coming from Solas about the latest with the project. Can't blame them to be honest. I know there's been funding issues or what have you but there's been a building site on pause down there for an awfully long time now.

Anonymous said...

This was announced back around the time I was starting college in Galway, I've since gotten a masters and emigrated!

I do wonder how anyone expects this to be sustained locally in any way whatsoever though. The IFI in Dublin has hard enough of a time, you really need a city of multiple millions to support cinemas like this in any substantial way.