Work on the unfinished Picture Palace arthouse cinema on Lower Merchants Road is set to resume in the coming week.
According to the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Heather Humphreys, “final legal agreements” between her department, Galway City Council and other stakeholders including Element Pictures will be signed this week.
It is understood that once the agreements are signed, this will allow construction work to get underway on the site again.
The long-awaited cinema, with a final cost estimated in the region of €9 million, will include a three screen cinema, a café and bookshop. The largest of the three screens will accommodate 178 people, while the other two screens will seat 82 and 69 respectively.
The controversial arthouse cinema came under fire in September following a Prime Time report documenting the public funding that the project has received and the continued delays encountered during the project.
Speaking to the Galway Independent, Minister Humphreys said the priority now is to bring the project to conclusion. “Once it is completed I do believe the project will be of huge benefit to Galway. Galway is synonymous with the arts and it is actually lacking in cultural infrastructure so the Picture Palace will be a great addition to the city and particularly as it prepares to host the European Capital of Culture in 2020 so I’m very keen to see it finished.”
Work on the project is currently at a standstill, however earlier this year Minister Humphreys announced the approval of the final injection of €255,000 from her Department to complete the fit out of the cinema, which will see work done on the interior of the building.
It is now hoped that the arthouse cinema will be open by next summer, some eight years after President Michael D Higgins turned the sod in 2009.
“Of course I think it’s in everyone’s interests this project is finished and it’ll certainly be very positive for Galway. It’s my understanding that it’s still on track to be finished in time for the Film Fleadh next year,” said Minister Humphreys.