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People of Preston series: Brian Gilligan, Arc Cinema

28 June 2024

ARC Cinema is one of the anchor tenants of the new Preston City Council £45 million Animate scheme. Animate will be owned and managed by the Council and is being delivered in partnership with Maple Grove Developments. With seven sites in Ireland and six in the UK, ARC Cinema have picked Preston as its first location in the North West for the fast-growing cinema brand.

The company prides itself on placing its venues in the heart of a community, ensuring the local community benefits from it being there, which fits with the Council's priority of Community Wealth Building. Brian Gilligan, director of ARC Cinema, saw Preston as its ideal location in the North West which will follow its Yorkshire venue in Rotherham which is due to open in September.

"We look for places that offer a vibrant community feel, and Preston has that quality - it has a diverse population which provides an excellent audience base, plus geographically, it's the perfect fit for us.

"We had been looking at locations in the North West that either provide us with the opportunity to bring back to life an existing building or locate a venue in a new development with a strong leisure proposition. Animate has that in spades and the scheme provides all the right ingredients to draw people to the city centre - that's another reason why we chose to come to Preston.

"We were also attracted to the City because of the wider regeneration plans that are in place, the investment that is coming into Preston, and what's planned for the future. We can see that the City is gaining momentum as a real draw for people to live, work, and play in."

Brian also cited the enthusiasm of the City Council to welcome the cinema operator to Preston:

"The team at the City Council were willing to do business from the outset, and it's been a seamless working partnership. We're all on the same page in creating something that will boost the nighttime and local economy, and we're looking forward to playing a part in Preston's renaissance."

The new cinema will be operating eight screens from its new 29,500 sq ft venue at Animate, and the team at ARC has an ethos of providing a VIP experience for a standard-price ticket. Brian added:

"Our focus is pretty straightforward: give people an excellent experience, and they'll keep returning. It's a mantra that has served us well. We make our venues accessible for all, and in doing so, it creates a loyal customer base."

ARC will shortly be embarking on a recruitment drive, looking for 30 people to become its latest cohort of colleagues.

"We'll be advertising for people to join us imminently; again, we expect many of them to come from the local community. While we want to be known as a great entertainment venue, we'll also play a role in the community and open the venue to local groups. In addition, we want to build links with education establishments to give students opportunities to understand how leisure businesses work in a digital era."

Plans are already underway for the fit-out of the cinema with state-of-the-art projection equipment and the best seating, which will be the envy of any high-end designer furniture brand. Brian concluded:

"We're now putting the final touches on our opening night, and we look forward to welcoming community members to our latest venue. I'm positive Preston will be a huge success for us and undoubtedly a blockbuster."