Strand Arts Centre
152-154 Holywood Road,
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Strand Cinema - Belfast (Official)
Architects: John McBride Neill
Styles: Streamline Moderne
Previous Names: Strand Cinema, Strand Variety Theatre
The Strand Cinema was opened on 7th December 1935 with Shirley Temple in "Bright Eyes". It was built for and operated by the Union Cinemas chain.
One of the features of the decoration inside the auditorium was three rows of round port-holes on the splay walls each side of the proscenium. These were back-lit and gave the feel of being inside an ocean liner. The proscenium had a wide plain border surrounding all four sides and had rounded corners. Seating was provided for 1,170, with 900-seats in stalls and 270-seats in the circle. There was also a café located on the first floor.
In October 1937, Union Cinemas were taken over by Associated British Cinemas(ABC) and they continued to operate it until it was closed on 12th November 1977. It was re-opened by a local independent operator on 19th November 1977. It was closed on 19th November 1983.
It operated as a concert and live performance venue named Strand Variety Theatre in 1984 with performances on its 14 feet deep stage. Artists such as The Drifters & comedians Little & Large appeared here. It closed in 1987. On 29th April 1988 it reopened for films again having been converted into a four-screen cinema with 642-seats (276, 196, 90 and 80). It is now independently operated and underwent a restoration in October 1999, bringing back many features that had been lost over the years. It currently operates as the Strand Arts Centre screening classic films (including 35mm prints) with 608-seats (250, 180, 98 & 80).
In October 2023 it was announced that the Strand Arts Centre would be closing in mid-February 2024 for a ££6.5 million renovation to be carried out. It is planned to reopen in mid-2025.
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