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University launches campaign to revive birthplace of British cinema

21 October 2009

A £1m donation by the MBI Al Jaber Foundation has launched a campaign to revive a historic cinema on London’s Regent Street.

In 1896 the cinema, then part of the Regent Street Polytechnic, was the venue for the UK’s first ever public display of moving pictures. Following its closure as a working cinema, the space has been used as a lecture theatre by the University of Westminster.

The University’s £5m fundraising campaign aims to restore the venue as a working cinema, showcasing student work and experimental film from around the world. The new cinema will double-up as a modern lecture theatre to host a new public lecture programme, and the marble entrance hall will be transformed in to a venue for learning, cultural exchange and exhibitions.

The campaign is supported by Tim Bevan, the Chairman of the UK Film Council.

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Westminster, Professor Geoffrey Petts said:

"The cinema will be a beacon for the film industry, and an incubator for emerging movie talent. The early films shown in the Regent Street Cinema were educational, connecting Londoners with the world in new ways."

"We want to re-open the doors to new audiences, and continue connecting cultures.  Our partnership with the MBI foundation is a fantastic start."

Patron and Chairman of the MBI Al Jaber Foundation, H.E. Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber said:

"Our support for this project acknowledges the important role of film and documentaries in raising awareness and building bridges between cultures. We are particularly excited by the prospect of a Middle East Film Series, and the social and educational opportunities of the new entrance hall."

Tim Bevan, Chairman of the UK Film Council said:

"It’s a London landmark, and it’s something we in the film industry will get behind."

People interested in supporting the campaign are invited to visit the website at  to express their interest.

About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 180-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.

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