The Savoy cinema has been a feature of Heaton Moor for all the years I’ve lived there – in fact it opened in 1923. I certainly remember going to the pictures at the Savoy thirty years ago and I still enjoy the popular showings there. But now, without digital projection and in poor repair, the Savoy is up for sale.
Because it’s in need of complete renovation, the cinema is in danger of closing (as it almost did in 2009) or being sold off for other uses. So a huge effort is being made by people across the Four Heatons who hope to buy it and transform it into a community arts centre.
I really hope we can stop the Savoy from closing. A community owned state-of-the-art, two-screen cinema, with a performance space and a café bar alongside, is a fantastic vision for the future of the Savoy. It would be a real asset for the area and would help to showcase the arts locally in the way that the Four Heatons Traders Association have showcased local businesses.
The group behind the project are members of the local community, many drawn from local businesses and professionals whose skills will be used in developing this project. They have set up a website and an online petition which I have signed, together with over 2,450 people who want to save the Savoy. Not to mention the Savoy Arts Centre facebook page – liked by many, including myself!
I think it’s exciting that so many people have come forward in the Heatons to offer their services in support of this community project. It reminds me of the 1990s when a tiny band of volunteers moved heaven and earth to restore the Stockport Plaza to its former glory. And although the Savoy project is an entirely different vision, the strong commitment to see the arts at the centre of our communities feels the same.
The Savoy Arts Centre is now set up as a community organisation and can begin to make funding bids, for example to the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as establishing a way of offering shares to the community. I would like to see them have an equal chance to buy the Savoy as the big companies, because I believe this initiative could bring real and lasting investment to the Heatons and to Stockport.