Meeting with Whiteladies Picture House campaigner

Peter Insole and I are meeting with Alan Mandel-Butler, one of the people campaigning to save the Whiteladies Picture House to talk cinema heritage an

Heritage Partner Peter Insole (Bristol City Council) and I are meeting with Alan Mandel-Butler, who together with David Fells is heading a team of people campaigning to save the Whiteladies Picture House on Monday to see if we can collaborate on raising awareness of Bristol's rich cinema heritage through the Know Your Place website.  Alan and his creative team are gathering information about other cinema sites in Bristol to fuel the growing interest in the saving the cinema.  Alan is blogging about this process and has been filming at the Curzon Community Cinema, Clevedon (an example of a heritage cinema that is still operational that received Heritage Lottery Funding) and other cinemas around Bristol, including the Rex in Bedminster - watch out for their next video blog.  You can follow them on Twitter: @wlpicturehouse and Facebook.

In our initial discussion as a team, Jo, Peter and myself agreed that there are two key things that we need to prototype, the single site experience and the movement between sites, what I'm calling the cinematic experience.  We've decided to focus the single site prototype around the Whiteladies Picture House as there is rich content and the building is still extant, whereas we'll focus the cinematic experience moving between sites in the Castle Park area as there's a wealth of cinema history in a condensed space, most of which does not exist anymore either because it was bombed, or torn down.

Whiteladies Picture House is a really interesting example of how the City Strata platform might be used to influence the Council's future planning of the city.  If people could be encouraged to upload their own archive to Know Your Place using the Contribute function it would send a message to the council about how strongly the cinema was appreciated by the communtity.  

Tower Whiteladies Picture House

Not sure why this image has rotated, as it's the right way round on my computer... Anyway, the cinema was built in 1921 and was operational until 2001 when it was bought by the current owner.  At that time then owner Odeon put a deed of covenant on the cinema stating that it could not operate as a cinema or theater.  Odeon's CEO Rupert Gavin has agreed to waive the covenant for the campaigners' planned use of the building as an arts centre, theatre and cinema run by charitable trust.

Right now the current owner has submitted a planning application to turn the listed building into a gym and 5 flats.  If you object to this, there's still a chance to lodge your objection with the council here. The deadline is tomorrow - 13 April!

You can also sign the petition to pledge your support for the campaign to save the cinema here.

I visited the site in March with the team and was shocked to see how far the building had deteriorated:

 Mirror in ballroom of Whiteladies Picture House