Million pound project announced for Horsham’s Capitol theatre

JPCT S13481027x 251113 Horsham. Capitol. -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120131126104251
JPCT S13481027x 251113 Horsham. Capitol. -photo by Steve Cobb ENGSUS00120131126104251

Horsham film and theatre lovers are set to get a huge boost as the Capitol theatre looks to undertake a massive investment project.

The screen offering for cinema-goers in the town could be about to triple with the imminent arrival of chain Everyman and a seven-figure-sum project in the pipeline at the Capitol.

Horsham District Council has announced it is looking to create more glitz at the popular entertainment centre in North Street and is beginning to draw up proposals to improve the building which could mean the creation of a new screen.

The move has been prompted by the success of the centre over the past few years and the anticipated arrival of boutique style cinema Everyman in Piries Place.

Speaking to the County Times Jonathan Chowen, cabinet member for Leisure and Culture, said: “Getting a brand new cinema in the town alongside the Year of Culture is very exciting.

“I would like to have the Capitol buzzing all of the time. It’s not revolutionary what we are proposing, it’s evolutionary.”

Mr Chowen said the council was exploring the possibility of creating a third cinema screen at the Capitol.

If agreed the screen would allow more blockbusters to be shown at the centre as well as more independent and foreign productions.

Nick Mowat, manager at the Capitol, explained due to an agreement made with distributors when new films are released they must run for a certain time before another film can be shown.

He said the new screen would not only enable them to show more popular releases for longer but would also mean they could get new blockbusters when they were initially released.

He said: “Everyman coming I think is a fantastic thing for the town. I think the fact that it’s opening in the Year of Culture is absolutely fantastic.

“What it has enabled us to do is to look at our offer. As Everyman is a mainstream cinema some of the types of films we show will be similar but what we have been able to do is look at our film offer and see what we can do with that.”

The plans are still in their infancy and would need planning approval if they were to develop the site.

However, other more imminent changes are also being outlined.

Mr Chowen said the council was planning to give the centre a make-over to give it more ‘glitz and glamour’.

He said: “We are going to glitz it up a bit and make it more accessible. This is an entertainment area it’s not a municipal building.”

The plans would see new seats installed in the theatre and cinemas as well as improvements made to the inside of the building and the foyer.

Mr Chowen added: “Sometimes I would walk out of meetings and think it really dark over there. We want to do more than that, there will be more glitz.”

The Capitol will also be taking over the running of its cafe and bar in April.

Both areas had previously been run by the same contractor which operates The Conservatory Cafe in Horsham Park but the firm’s contract is set to come to an end in the spring.

Nick said it would give the centre a chance to look at its catering offer as well promote new food and drink specials depending on what was being shown that night.

Mr Chowen said: “What’s been clear from this project is when I meet people in the district and talk about the Year of Culture and talk about the Capitol they only have love for the Capitol. People really love it as a building and love it when they come here.

“The next process is deciding exactly what we are going to do.”

The Capitol is currently run by a small team of 13 full-time staff. It puts on more than 250 shows a year as well as thousands of cinema screenings.

The improvements are set to create more jobs with the change to the cafe and bar already set to create three new roles.

The building used to get more than £300,000 in funding from the council however, due to it’s continued success the council subsidy is set to be reduced to around £150,000 next year.

Nick said: “We have done very well in the last two to three years to relieve the burden on the council tax payer.

“So often local authorities are making changes because of a financial crisis but we are making changes because of success.”

The project overall could take several years.

The council said it was aiming to get grants to pay for some of the work but most of the money would be coming from the building’s profits.

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