In a recent article for the Academy of Urbanism Journal, now available on-line, Stefanie Fischer explored how the recently completed project to conserve and develop Campbeltown Picture House, viewed alongside other initiatives in Campbeltown, serves as an example of cultural and heritage led regeneration of a town that had slipped into decline, economically and in terms of the state of its historic environment, including over 140 Listed Buildings. The article features in the 11th edition of the Academy’s journal whose theme was “Do art and culture really contribute to urbanism?”.
When Campbeltown Picture House was built in 1913, occupying a prominent position overlooking Campbeltown Harbour, Campbeltown was a thriving maritime town. It was once one of the richest towns per capita in Scotland, and its sheltered port played a key role in growing the whisky, fishing and tourism industries. However, Scotland’s 20th century industrial decline contributed to the damage to Campbeltown’s economy, and in common with the urban fabric and historic environment within the town centre, Campbeltown Picture House had fallen into disrepair.
The Centenary Project was launched to conserve the Campbeltown Picture House and to upgrade it to meet the expectations of a modern cinema operator and cinema-going audience, so as to provide it with a sustainable future. Following its completion in late 2017, it is now more than a cinema, providing a cultural, leisure, social and community hub for Campbeltown and Kintyre, and continues a tradition of cine variety, making use of the original variety stage for small scale comedy acts and amplified music performance.
The impetus for regeneration was the high level of deprivation in a remote area, a decreasing population, rising unemployment, a lack of inward investment and a lack of repairs and maintenance, resulting in deteriorating buildings. In the article Stefanie considers the impact of the project on urban and economic regeneration viewed within the context of other projects in Campbeltown, which have resulted in new market conditions, and improved townscape and facilities.
The full article can be read here.