The Magic Lantern cinema in Tywyn has been saved from possible closure and given a bright new future thanks to an award of £30,000 from The Peter Saunders Trust. This is the largest single award ever made by the Trust, which has supported the local community with awards of over a quarter of a million pounds since it was established in 2005.

Mark Bond and Geoff Hill took on the lease for the cinema in 2010 and have given the venue a new lease of life. The foyer has been converted into a bar with comfortable seating, and an imaginative programme of events has been launched to create interest through the entire year. This includes stand-up comedy, themed events linked to particular films, and very popular open-mic evenings in which local people give expression to their talents!

Their ambition is for The Magic Lantern to become a thriving Arts Centre and a focus for creative talent in Tywyn and beyond.

All this was put into jeopardy, however, by the withdrawal of celluloid film by the film industry. In future, films will be available only in digital format and a digital projector with 3-D capability would cost £65,000. Without the ability to show films the cinema would be forced to close and the dream of an Arts Centre in the town would be lost forever.

The Trustees recognised the importance of the cinema within the community and its great potential. There were few facilities of this nature anywhere in rural Wales and it was felt that the efforts of the business partners and local people to retain such a facility in Tywyn should be supported. The Trustees also recognised the inspiration and dedication that the partners had brought to the social enterprise.

The chairman of the Trustees, Peter Saunders, OBE, said ‘We are delighted to help save this important facility for the town. It is important for local residents and for visitors, alike. There is a tendency sometimes to take for granted facilities that do exist and only miss them when they are gone. Here we have a facility that cannot only be saved, but can grow and help inject new vitality into the town. We felt that Mark and Geoff, along with their staff, deserved the support of the Trust for their vision and determination.'

This particular award from the Trust matches the award given from the Gwynedd Enabling Fund by Gwynedd Council. Along with money donated by local residents worried at the possible loss of the Magic Lantern cinema, these grants enable the immediate purchase of the digital equipment.

Mark Bond responded by saying "We are so delighted to receive this award from the Trust. The evolution of Tywyn Cinema into a sustainable Arts Centre with 3D digital Cinema is an exciting project for us, and the thought of all our efforts coming to nothing was a nightmare. Very few Welsh towns have a cinema, let alone a vibrant arts venue attracting national and international artists and events, and the award from the Trust makes all this possible."