The Hyde Park Picture House, one of the UK's oldest and most treasured cinemas, is to reopen its doors on Friday 30 June, as work on its refurbishment nears completion.
Thanks to support from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the 109-year-old Leeds cinema has successfully carried out significant restoration works throughout the past two years, including repairs to its façade and external lamppost, the restoration of original terrazzo flooring, and the refurbishment of its nine gas lights which will be lit for every screening.
The Picture House Project, which received funding from Leeds City Council and the Garfield Weston Foundation, has also introduced new accessible facilities, including a ramped entrance, Café Bar, Community Room, platform lift and wheelchair accessible toilet. A brand-new 50-seat second screen, located in the cinema’s basement, will open later in July – allowing the Picture House to expand its programme and bring to Leeds even more award-winning films from around the world.
The cinema reopens at the end of June with Wes Anderson’s critically acclaimed Asteroid City, followed by a summer of screenings and launch events for each of the Picture House’s distinct programme strands. Events being announced today include:
A preview screening of endearing new Dutch documentary Shabu (4th July), accompanied by a director Q&A – which launches the cinema’s weekly documentary strand, Tuesday Wonders.
A season of films in partnership with Leeds International African Arts Festival (from 11th July), as part of the Picture House’s new Cinema Africa! strand celebrating the best new African film.
A special screening of Yorkshire classic Brassed Off (30th July), with a Q&A with director Mark Herman – launching the cinema’s new classics strand, reRUN.
During its opening week, the Picture House is also holding a series of open days, where audiences are invited to visit the cinema, explore the new and refurbished spaces, enjoy free films on the big screen and see archive material up close in the new Community Room.
More screenings and events will be announced over the coming days and weeks, with tickets available via the cinema’s new website which launches today. Designed and built by local Leeds agencies Rabbithole and Let’s Dance, visitors to HPPH.co.uk can learn more about the cinema, its unique history and the work that’s been carried out in recent years, with regular stories published via its new online journal.
Alan Gay, Chair of the Leeds Heritage Theatres Board, said: “Hyde Park Picture House is a crucial and much-loved part of the Leeds Heritage Theatre’s family of venues, a community asset and an important heritage venue in the city. We’re grateful to The National Lottery Heritage Fund for all their support throughout this project, enabling us to restore and enhance this beautiful cinema and bring film and the history of film to new audiences. As we move towards re-opening after this extended period of closure, we cannot wait to welcome the people of Leeds back to the Picture House and look forward to showing the cinema to a new generation of film goers.”
Chris Blythe, Leeds Heritage Theatres CEO, said: “When we started work on the Picture House project in 2015 we had no idea of the challenges ahead and how long our original timeline would have to be extended. Nor did we fully appreciate the support and love so many people across the city and nationally would show for our cinema. As we stand on the cusp of re-opening, we are looking forward to a bright future with this gem of a Picture House restored and more accessible than ever before.”
Helen Featherstone, director, England, North at The National Lottery Heritage Fund, said “Hyde Park Picture House is absolutely a place to see captivating stories on the silver screen, and in addition the venue is at the heart of many fantastic stories for the people of Leeds, and even further afield. We’re thrilled that money raised by National Lottery players has preserved this majestic building as a mainstay of the city’s rich, and evolving, cultural heritage. We can’t wait for the doors to reopen for the community to enjoy this special place once more and continue to build on that important heritage for future generations.”
Cllr. Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s executive member for economy, culture and education, said: “It’s hugely exciting to see such a cherished piece of the city’s cultural landscape opening its doors once more after what has been a once-in-a-lifetime heritage project. Film has a special place in the story of Leeds and the Hyde Park Picture house has been a cornerstone of that story for more than a century. It’s wonderful to know this venue’s unique character has been protected and preserved and that it will continue to welcome audiences for many more generations to come.”