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Montreal's iconic Imperial Cinema in jeopardy of closing next year


The future of a historic theatre in Montreal's Latin Quarter, which has stood for over 110 years, is in jeopardy due to a lack of federal funding for major renovations.

The Cinema Imperial, built in 1913, says it has been trying to do renovation and restoration work to solidify its long-term survival.

However, insufficient support from the Canadian government may have "far-reaching repercussions" and could cause the theatre to close by the end of January.

The lack of federal funding, the cinema says, has caused Quebecor to stop its financial support as of Jan. 31. Quebecor bailed the Imperial out in 2017.

"Since 2017, we have been privileged to have Quebecor at our side, a solid private partner with whom we established a recovery and development plan to ensure the future of the Imperial Cinema, and who offered us strategic, financial and philanthropic support, with an overall contribution of $8.5 million," said Benoit Clermont on behalf of the cinema's board in a news release.

"We could also count on the support of the Quebec government, which has already committed to supporting the project to the tune of $5.6 million, as well as the involvement of the City of Montreal. Now, without a sufficient contribution from the Government of Canada, the feasibility of this project is seriously compromised, and the Imperial Cinema will have to cease operations," Clermont added.

The cinema had hoped to secure funding to restore the building's heritage features, renovate the auditorium and modernize facilities by increasing the number of seats and upgrading the sound and lighting equipment.

Cinema Imperial staff want to renovate and restore parts of the aging building but a lack of funding may mean the iconic theatre in Montreal's Latin Quarter may have to close. SOURCE: Cinema Imperial

Cinema spokesperson Ines Aboujja-Tessier told CTV News that the CCI applied for a grant of around $7 million through Canadian Heritage, which countered with an offer of $1 million for 2025-2026, "which is clearly insufficient to complete the financing model for the renovation plan," Aboujja-Tessier said.

Losing the institution would be a blow to the city and province's cultural history.

"Quebec has already lost a large number of heritage buildings to dilapidation," said Clermont. "While preserving our built heritage is a real priority, a fair balance between public and private contributions is essential for projects of this importance."

The Imperial Cinema is a not-for-profit organization listed on the Quebec Cultural Heritage Register. Top Stories

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