Limerick VEC in plan to develop cultural centre and cinema at Theatre Royal site

Mike Dwane

Reporter:

Mike Dwane

THE silver screen could return to the Theatre Royal as the City of Limerick VEC seeks tenders from architects to help draw up a planning application for a three-screen cinema and cultural centre at the historic Cecil Street institution.

THE silver screen could return to the Theatre Royal as the City of Limerick VEC seeks tenders from architects to help draw up a planning application for a three-screen cinema and cultural centre at the historic Cecil Street institution.

THE silver screen could return to the Theatre Royal as the City of Limerick VEC seeks tenders from architects to help draw up a planning application for a three-screen cinema and cultural centre at the historic Cecil Street institution.

VEC chief executive Paul Patton confirmed a feasibility study had been completed and interest was now being sought from architectural firms “to draw up detailed drawings and to go towards a full planning application” in respect of the VEC-owned building.

Talks had taken place with private investors but Mr Patton said he could not go into detail on these discussions. But the plan was to develop a cultural and educational centre in conjunction with a three-screen cinema which would be commercially run by a private company, Mr Patton said.

Limerick city centre has not had a cinema since the closure in the early 2000s of the Savoy Cineplex, a building that was eventually demolished in 2005. The last film screened at the former Royal Cinema itself was Police Academy 2 in 1985.

The three-screen cinema now being planned could accommodate 160, 80 and 60 patrons respectively, Mr Patton said.

Amid reports that the plan was to reopen the Royal as an arthouse cinema, Mr Patton was asked if he anticipated Hollywood blockbusters being shown again in the city centre.

“It might not necessarily be the case that you couldn’t show the likes of your ‘Toy Story 3’ there but maybe not on the release date. The Omniplex and Storm show the major releases but the cost comes down after a few weeks. Those kinds of films could be shown but possibly not on the date of release.”

The facility could be used to show Irish films or others that are not as obviously commercial.

“From the VEC’s point of view, education would obviously be a big part of what we would like to see happen. There would be a significant educational side to it and we would hope that film students, like our own students at Limerick College of Further Education would be able to use it to screen their own productions. The space could also be available, for example, for school classes to come in and watch a screen adaptation of a novel they might be studying and we could facilitate that a low cost,” he said.