A group advocating for a community-owned cinema in Qualicum Beach wants to conduct a feasibility study examining the prospects, conditions and models of such a project in the town.
Qualicum Beach Multi-Use Cinema Society wants to hire a consultant to perform a market assessment, a financial analysis, a comparison of available sites, and a look at operation considerations and competition. The society is now looking for funds for the study that will also explore possible amenities within the cinema such as family-friendly cafe, wine bar and tourism features that include a cinematic experience showcasing the area for tourists.
Janet Taggart represented the group at the Oceanside Services Committee meeting on May 16 where she spoke about the project and their request for financial assistance from the Northern Community Economic Development funds.
A cinema, Taggart said, was on top of the list in the Official Community Plan survey on “how to improve the quality of life in Qualicum Beach for all generations. She also pointed out a poll featured in the Parksville-Qualicum Beach News that reported over 95 per cent of respondents wished to see a cinema built in Qualicum Beach.
“[The] feasibility study, we feel, is very important to take this project forward,” Taggart pointed out. “It’s very difficult to get funding for feasibility studies.”
Taggart said they hope the RDN’s NCED can kick off their fundraising efforts for the study. They intend to apply for grants as well. The society estimate the cost of the study to be approximately $30,000. They’ve requested $15,000 from the NCED but were only approved for $7,500.
The society’s vision is to use the community-owned building on Memorial Avenue at the old bus garage property as the location of the cinema that would feature one to three screening rooms and aims to showcase a carefully-curated program of first- and second-run feature films, independent films, classic films, local and international films, and film festivals. It will also serve as a venue to hold talks, conferences, gaming events, small-scale music performances and private rentals.
The cinema and multi-use facility, Taggart explained, would serve not only Qualicum Beach but also Parksville and surrounding communities such as Bowser, Errington, Coombs and Nanoose, as well as visiting tourists and snowbirds.
“There would be something for everyone,” said Taggart. “And we definitely see this as an inter-generational community building serving Oceanside and surrounding RDN areas, a place where the larger community comes together.”
The society has already received significant support from groups and organizations who regard the cinema as an incredible addition to the cultural development of the area, Taggart said.
Once established, the cinema building would be owned by the Town of Qualicum Beach, but the program of events would be curated by the society through its volunteer board of directors. The day-to-day running of the cinema would involve a combination of volunteers and paid positions.