Work on new auditorium gathers pace at Abbeygate cinema during lockdown
It may have been forced to go dark during the coronavirus lockdown, but a Bury St Edmunds cinema is using the time to transform itself.
The Abbeygate cinema and No.4 restaurant and bar are currently closed to the public, but contractors are working behind the scenes on a major renovation project and creation of a new auditorium in the former Hatter Street bingo hall.
Chris Peters, project manager for Abbeygate, said: "We were devastated to close our doors to the public, but the Abbeygate is never quiet for long.
"Over recent weeks we’ve had carpenters, electricians, carpet and seat installers taking their turns coming into the old bingo hall to continue our new auditorium fit-out."
He said contractors were working at a safe and socially-distanced pace.
A tailor-made screen frame is now in place, while in the coming weeks a state-of-the-art 4K laser projector should be installed.
"Cinema is particularly hit by the pandemic. But, all around the world, smart cinemas are using this time to clean, decorate, refurbish and redevelop so that when cinema-going returns, we’re in the best possible shape," said Mr Peters.
Originally, the Abbeygate was planning to open the new auditorium this spring in a ‘bare bones’ pop-up format.
Now, it is pushing on with the work so the auditorium could be as close to finished as possible when the cinema re-opens.
"When restrictions start to get lifted people will be wanting to get out and see films, so what cinemas will need is more screens and seats – and that’s exactly what we'll have," added Mr Peters.
As well as a new auditorium, the projection system in screen two is being upgraded. Meanwhile, Annie Plumb Interiors is rejuvenating the bar seating and other spaces are being decorated.
The Abbeygate is running a 2020 Building Blocks fund-raising campaign. Any donation of £50 or more will see the contributor’s name included in artwork for the new part of the building.
Nearly 400 names are set to go on the wall, but the cinema hopes to top 500.
To support the campaign, go to abbeygatecinema.co.uk