Future Strand

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Transforming the Strand for current and future generations

The Strand is in urgent need of renovation. It has played a huge part in the life of the East Belfast community for over 80 years, but cannot continue to do so without investment.

The not-for-profit Strand Arts Centre charity took over the tenancy of Northern Ireland’s oldest cinema building in 2013 with the aim of securing both its short-term survival and long-term redevelopment.

Since then it has demonstrated an overwhelming appetite for more live entertainment. Over 55,000 people each year now attend a busy programme of new and classic film, theatre and music, and performing arts and filmmaking workshops for children. The Strand is widely used by many festivals and by the local community for school visits, local film premieres and charity fundraising events.

A building in need

All of this, however, has been delivered in a building that is physically deteriorating, has poor disabled access, and a lack of usable spaces to meet the demand for its youth, education and community outreach activities.

Due to limited stage and dressing room facilities, we cannot presently accommodate some of the best performers and theatre companies who wish to be in our programme.

The Strand is full of character and we want to preserve and promote its Art Deco heritage. But it urgently needs renovated and in doing so we can provide so much more for our audiences and the local community.

New Opportunities for Everyone

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By 2020 our vision is for a fully modernised film and live performance venue. Our aim is to engage audiences of over 80,000 annually. And a key focus of our work will be education and skills development projects with young people, schools and the local community.

The refurbished Strand Arts Centre will include:

  • four cinema screens showing the latest blockbusters as well as classic, cultural and educational films; can also be hired for private events including birthday parties, social nights out, school visits and fundraisers
  • two flexible drama/dance studios for rehearsals, performing arts classes, yoga workshops and more
  • three smaller rooms for activities promoting creative and digital skills (eg) filmmaking, animation, arts and crafts, music and DJ production
  • two theatres seating 180 & 250 with a diverse programme of live theatre and music performances throughout the year – both professional and community
  • Glazed projection box showing some of the history and heritage of the Strand, including both our 35mm projectors and the newer digital technologies
  • Coffee dock with view of the Belmont Road for daytime meetings and laptop working
  • Breakout spaces for meetings and pre-event receptions
  • Licensed bar with terrace extending out onto Holywood Road
  • Stunning rooftop views offering a breathtaking glimpse at the evolution of East Belfast – from our industrial heritage at Harland and Wolff to the emerging creative industries within Titanic Quarter.

The new building will be a thriving community space day and night, attracting audiences of all ages, from our Saturday Minors Club for young families to our Silver Screenings of classic movies for seniors.

How much will it cost?

An Economic Appraisal detailed the preferred option for the refurbishment of the Strand at £4.2 million.

An important first step towards securing the Strand’s future has been made with Belfast City Council’s offer of £1.8 million from its Belfast Investment Fund.

We are hugely grateful to the council for its vote of confidence in this project. But we urgently need other funders to come on board this exciting project to ensure the survival of the Strand.