It is a former mining village whose population barely nudges towards 2,000 on a busy day – but that doesn’t stop its residents from dreaming of Hollywood glamour.  

And now a small community in Stirlingshire is to get its very own big screen after a year-long effort to establish its own purpose built cinema became a reality.  

The village of Plean will soon be home to one of Scotland’s smallest moviehouses, complete with a fully-functional projector, silver screen, twenty comfy seats and obligatory popcorn.  

Organisers promise the ‘full cinema experience’ on the village’s doorstep, with blockbusters such as Barbie and Oppenheimer coming their way, alongside films picked by the people of the village.   

And residents will not have to fork out a fortune to see the latest releases, as tickets will be sold on a ‘pay what you choose' - with prices starting from £4.50. 

The cinema is the result of a coming together between the local community, the Macrobert Arts Centre at the University of Stirling, and the local council. 

The Herald:

The quiet streets of Plean

Dubbed the ‘Macrobert Moviehouse, the little film theatre will share screenings with the Macrobert Arts Centre, as well as regular selections from the local groups created as part of the project.

The moviehouse will be based at the village’s Balfour Community Centre, and will operate on a part-time basis, screening films on Thursday and Friday evenings and all-day Saturday and Sunday.

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The idea of a community-based cinema was first proposed by staff at the Macrobert Arts Centre, with Stirling Council taking up the hunt for a suitable community and venue.

The local authority broached the idea with the people of Plean, who were hungry to bring more activity and business to the village, which is currently rated high on the SIMD (Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation).

The Herald:

Community meetings to discuss the plan were held 

After liaising with Stirling Council’s Community Development team and presenting the idea to members of the local community, it became clear that The Balfour Centre would make an excellent home for the cinema.

As part of the project’s legacy, Macrobert is working with community trust Plean’s Voice to take future ownership of the moviehouse.

Robert McWilliam, Chairman of Plean’s Voice said: “Plean’s Voice was still in development when we first heard about the Macrobert Moviehouse project but we knew from the outset that we were going to make this a success.

“After the early hard work by Macrobert and Stirling Council, we were delighted to be invited to help with the ongoing planning and running of the project.

“We are already looking at the future and how to fund and manage the project in the long term. Macrobert Moviehouse will be a huge boost to the Plean revival, bringing additional social activity for people of all ages as well as employment opportunities. There will be hard work ahead but we believe that Plean can do it.”  

The planning, approach and project management was made possible through Screen Scotland’s Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas, backed by the Scottish Government. 

Stirling Council is also supporting by allowing the cinema to operate in the Balfour Community Centre.

The Herald:

The meeting was for young and old

Julie Ellen, Artistic Director of the Macrobert Arts Centre said: “Right from the start the people of Plean have been so positive and keen for something special to happen for the area they live in and love.

“Many locals have stories of all the things that used to happen at the Balfour Centre and how sorry they are that it has been so underused in recent years.

“The pandemic highlighted the challenges of life in Stirling’s eastern villages including the high cost of public transport, limited access to shops and social activities but also galvanised some wonderful local people into action with food distribution projects, Stay and Play events and other important social activities.

“Macrobert has delivered creative projects in this area many times over the years but this one is really special, a genuine partnership with some inspiring people. We have made many new friends, and Plean is so dear to our hearts now that we cannot wait to see the Moviehouse open.”

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Screen Scotland’s Katharine Simpson said: “It is fantastic to see Macrobert’s community cinema project in Plean come to fruition. We are glad to have been able to assist with funding for the research and development which contributed to this through the Scottish Government’s Covid Recovery Fund for Independent Cinemas.

“We hope that this will enable more audiences to access Macrobert’s excellent film programme, get involved in choosing their own films and events, and together create a local cinema that is enjoyed for years to come by the people of Plean. Congratulations to all involved.”