Bournemouth’s Imax to make way for £2m open-air space

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A £2 million outdoor entertainment space in Dorset is set to open next summer, following the demolition of a controversial cinema and leisure building.

Open-air Shakespeare performances, music concerts and dance shows are all being planned for the seafront area in Bournemouth, with local dance agency Pavilion Dance and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra already having expressed an interest in performing.

Professional shows are expected to dominate the programme, but local groups will also be given the opportunity to perform.

Bournemouth Borough Council, which owns the land, said it has begun dismantling the Imax cinema building that occupies the 1,750-square metre site. It expects demolition to be completed by spring 2013 to make way for a flexible area that will be suitable for staging, seating or open-plan use.

The Imax cinema opened in 2002 but was closed three years later after having problems showing 3D films. Residents have in the past accused it of being an eyesore and blocking sea views.

Since its closure, it was bought back by the council in 2010. Consultations were held with suggestions of an entertainment space.

Although the local authority confirmed the performance site is a temporary fix, it said it hopes the space will be used in this way for at least five years.

Leader of Bournemouth Borough Council John Beesley said: “We are trying to create a performance space that will have a comprehensive programme throughout the year – and especially in the summer months – relating to dance, theatre, cinema, performing arts, sports activities and community use.

“There will be a number of musical events as well, and we hope the first of those will be at the opening in June, with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra."