Hucknall cinema group supporting Italian campaign

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While the Byron Community Project team are working to restore the Byron Cinema in Hucknall, members are keenly watching the work of a group of people in a Tuscan town who are engaged in a similar task.

And now the Byron Cinema’s supporters are asking local people to support the Teatro Impero in Montevarchi.

Built in the early 1900s, it was in 1937 given a new frontage in the striking style of the period by a local architect and engineer called Raffaello Maestrelli.

In 1971, the theatre was renovated with over 1,000 new seats and at aound the same time, the original tiled roof was replaced with asbestos -cement corrugated sheets.

Following a fire in 1983, when 64 people died of fumes from burning seats in a Turin cinema, Italian safety laws were tightened up and the Impero declared unsafe.

It was forced to close as the owners were unable or unwilling to finance work to bring it up to the new standard.

The Impero has stayed closed for over 25 years, leaving Montevarchi, a town some 32 miles from the city of Siena, without a large hall.

In 2010, the council included the purchase of the building in its town centre renovation programme, but so far they have not been able to agree terms with the owners.

Part of the roof has now collapsed.

At the start of 2014, Montevarchi residents set up Friends of the Impero to draw attention to the urgent need to rescue the theatre.

One of the initiatives promoted by the group is the Luogo del Cuore project (Places You Love), which is sponsored by the environmental group FAI.

The Byron Project’s David Heathcote was at university with Friends of the Impero founding member, Bob Monroe.

He said: “We discovered our common interest on Facebook,” said David.

“There are some amazing coincidences, such as The Byron being built in 1937, which was the same year the Impero was renovated.

“Both projects are looking to public funding to help re-open their fine buildings and benefit their respective communities.”

Friends of the Impero members voted for the Byron Community Project in the recent Lloyds Community campaign and helped win us £3,000.

“Now it’s our turn to help them and vote for their project.”

To vote, type the following link into a web browser: http://goo.gl/wscqrQ and click on the green VOTA button.