Jam Jar Cinema to open in Blyth as part of new culture hub, as council approves funding for project

Funding for a new cinema and arts centre in Blyth has been approved by councillors, ahead of – hopefully – planning permission being granted next month.
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Northumberland County Council’s cabinet has given the thumbs-up to an investment package for the Culture Hub and Market Place scheme, part of the £70m Energising Blyth regeneration programme.

The project’s three-screen cinema will, it has been announced today, be operated by Jam Jar Cinema, an independent movie theatre in Whitley Bay.

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Jam Jar Cinema founder Dan Ellis said: “We have operated our award-winning cinema in Whitley Bay for over a decade and we are very pleased to be able to take the opportunity to bring our ethos to Blyth.

An artist's impression of the new cultural venue.An artist's impression of the new cultural venue.
An artist's impression of the new cultural venue.

“We have seen the difference a full time independent cinema can make to a town and this will be the next step on our journey.

“Blyth is exactly the kind of place we want to be and know local people will love an affordable cinema at the heart of the community which is accessible to all.”

The venue also includes event spaces, a children’s creative play facility, and a cafe.

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Dan added: “I am looking forward to there being all sorts of exciting events too. It is going to be great for residents but also a destination venue.

Dan Ellis, founder of the Jam Jar Cinema in Whitley Bay, has announced a Jam Jar will open in Blyth.Dan Ellis, founder of the Jam Jar Cinema in Whitley Bay, has announced a Jam Jar will open in Blyth.
Dan Ellis, founder of the Jam Jar Cinema in Whitley Bay, has announced a Jam Jar will open in Blyth.

“I am looking forward to engaging with the community and partners in Blyth as we prepare to open the new venue next year.”

In addition to the culture hub, the Market Place will be renovated to feature more green space, new street furniture, and enhanced street lighting in an attempt to make the area safer and improve biodiversity.

Furthermore, the area’s public toilets will be refurbished and the remembrance garden next to St Mary’s Church will be enhanced.

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Councillor Wojciech Ploszaj, cabinet member for business, said: “The town centre has been struggling, like many towns up and down the country, as retail has declined.

“We want to see a town centre everyone is proud of that serves the community, boosts trade for local businesses, and attracts further investment.

“This major project will help to kickstart the regeneration of the area so it is fantastic to both approve the project and announce the welcome news that Jam Jar Cinema will be coming on board to provide a new and exciting offer.”

Subject to a decision on the planning application, due next month, construction could start this summer, after the Blyth Carnival.

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Local businesses and weekly markets will continue to operate and the expected completion date is winter 2024.

Alan Ferguson, chairman of the Town Deal Board, which oversees government investment in Blyth, said: “The announcement today is a huge step for the town helping us to deliver our ambitions to grow, renew and connect the town.

“Having always been a supporter of culture in the town it gives me much pleasure to see full time cinema coming back and I am sure the people of Blyth will welcome its return too.”

Mayor of Blyth Town Council, Warren Taylor, added: “We look forward to working closely with the new commercial operators, colleagues at the county council, and the wider cultural offer in Blyth to improve the facilities, attractions, and opportunities available to local people, and to help kick start the regeneration of our town centre.”