Port Lincoln cinema saved from closure

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By Melissa Keogh

When Port Lincoln woman Angela Perin heard that the town’s only cinema would close its doors on December 31 last year she saw an opportunity to save the much-valued community facility.

The Port Lincoln cinema had been run by youth social enterprise, Youthoria, under community organisation West Coast Youth and Community Support (WCYCS) for almost a decade.

But due to a lack of funds, Youthoria announced its looming closure causing disappointment among locals as the next closest cinema is three hours away in Whyalla.

“When the board announced that it was going to close the cinema I hoped that someone would grab it up and give it a new lease on life. But that didn’t appear to be happening and the community was really upset,” Angela says.

“I have two kids, aged 12 and 13, and we can’t imagine the town without a cinema. So I did what I’m always telling others to do and that is do something about it. I had a chat to my family we decided that we’d do it.”

Rudi Perin takes charge of the popcorn machine at the Lincoln Cinema.

As an employee at WCYCS, Angela was familiar with the running of the Youthoria cinema and had worked alongside  the youth group that took over the theatre in 2008.

She is now running the cinema as a family business, purchasing the cinema equipment from Youthoria and leasing the 90-year-old theatre building from the Port Lincoln Council.

On January 3 the movie theatre was revived under a new name, Lincoln Cinema, welcoming 200 movie goers through its doors and continuing the tradition of watching holiday blockbusters on the big screen.

“The community has been so supportive, people have come from Tumby Bay, Cummins and Cleve,” Angela says. “The support has been overwhelming.”

The Lincoln Cinema will close from January 29 until the end of February to undergo minor renovations, with Angela hoping to expand the candy bar to create a more welcoming coffee spot and meeting place for visitors.

The Port Lincoln cinema, originally known as Flinders Picture Theatre, was established in 1929. Photo courtesy of Cinema Treasures, Granola.

She says the cinema is an essential facility for regional youth as it offers them a safe place to meet and socialise.

“Going to the movies is an experience,” she says.

“You can watch movies at home but going to the movies with friends and family and seeing something on the big screen – there’s nothing like it.”

Longstanding SA movie theatre company Wallis Cinemas is the booking agent for Lincoln Cinema, which Angela says will screen some of the summer holiday blockbusters including Mary Poppins Returns.

The movie theatre on Hallett Place in Port Lincoln was established as the Flinders Picture Theatre in 1929 by Mrs R. L. MacGregor.

An article in the Port Lincoln Times newspaper on Friday, September 6, 1929, reports on the ceremony where the foundation stone was laid.

The article states, “It was recognised that a theatre of the class that was being built was essential to the progress of Port Lincoln. The hope was expressed that the venture would prove a success”.

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