Glasgow’s best-known independent cinema has been awarded £500,000 towards a £1.6m expansion plan.  The grant will allow the Glasgow Film Theatre (GFT) to add a third cinema screen, improve disability access and relocate catering facilities.  The decision to back the scheme was given cross-party support at Glasgow City Council’s executive committee.

The expansion will allow the B-listed cinema, built on Rose Street in 1939, to add 1,500 screening slots per year.

Bailie Liz Cameron, chair of Glasgow Film, said: “With admissions to GFT of over 200,000 in the financial year 2011-12, our two cinemas welcome more than twice the UK screen average admissions.

‘Bursting at seams’

“Glasgow Film Festival is the fastest-growing film festival in the UK with admissions in 2012 of over 35,000.

“With GFT as its hub, our new cinema screen will allow us to increase our festival audiences as we look towards our 10th anniversary in 2014.”

Before reaching its decision, the committee heard that the GFT was “bursting at the seams” and regularly had to stop a film’s run even when it was taking considerable levels of box office income.

The lack of space, the report said, particularly affected GFT’s international ambitions for the Glasgow Film Festival.

The addition of a third cinema screen, which is expected to be open at the end of 2013, will help the GFT meet these demands and also increase education and outreach work.

From 2014/15, the GFT plans to allocate 300 out of the 1,500 new slots at the theatre to non-cinema activity, including youth group meetings, extended talks and debates, and private hire.