Thought of glitzy fluff to fanfare this, but best just say it: We have the money! Not quite all of it of course, but £1.2million is enough to get on with transforming the old Odeon into The Odyssey.

Our quantity survey confirms a finished price of around £1.6m. Therefore, with a renewed fundraising push for the last £400,000 it is realistic we will be showing our first film at the beginning of 2014.

Perhaps a little hooray moment is called for. So hooray!

On Thursday 30th April, the last in a long line of young bank executives was swamped by a Rex foyer, bursting with a typical full house matinee. He was here to put the finishing touches to Heads of Terms at the closing stages of their Credit Committee’s tentative approval. To give them their due, they got closer to lending us money than any of the other banks, including those publicly owned. However, one thing led to another, Terms were found to be unmanageable, and later that day, the answer returned to ‘No’ once more. Never Mind.

 After two solid years (almost to the day) of endless talks, emails, meetings, tasks and questions answered, re-answered and repeated, it was all over in two days! 

By 9.45am on Friday 1st May the word ‘Yes’ came from one man, who along with his family, agreed to step in to the bank’s pockets, without a second thought. After two solid years (almost to the day) of endless talks, emails, meetings, tasks and questions answered, re-answered and repeated, it was all over in two days! Suddenly every hoop and tedious question seemed worth it. One odyssey over; the best to come.

In turn, over the past two years, the banks (seven to be precise) venture capitalists and a number of speculators couldn’t ‘get it’. 136 people had sponsored seats at £1000 each; £30,000 came in pure donations; ordinary people raised a million in just eight weeks to buy the site; 580 individuals willingly paid £285 for some future uncertain ticket, at the height of the worst recession since 1929, and all for an old derelict cinema! This was anathema to banks and others, but crystal clear to everybody else.

All the young bank executives were very keen and excited, until submitting to their anonymous credit committees. It is not the mechanics of lending/borrowing that confounds, it’s the hoops they invent to enable refusal. Among the many things we’ve learned, credit committees in Manchester or Birmingham are not fit to make decisions about another community’s well-being.

 For now, we will start rebuilding the Odyssey from the inside…a friendly architect to do some early drawings, would be very handy right now. 

So, it took one decent individual, fed up with them, to find the loan funds by himself. A virtual repeat of how the Rex was won. More of this later. Names etc. and the longer story will follow over the summer months. For now, we will start rebuilding the Odyssey from the inside. Quietly, much of the work to satisfy the fire brigade’s and Council’s prohibition notice last September (which halted the Grease event and following Open Sunday) has been completed, and all four screen pits have been demolished and removed. Investors and our ‘banking angel’ have put up the required £1.2m to match the £1.2m already raised to buy the site, and complete preparatory work.

But money is still tight. With the budget we have set, there is very little slack, and no room for fees on top of the actual work to be done… Hence a friendly architect to do some early drawings, would be very handy right now.

Support us

 This year will be your last chance to buy an Advanced Booking List (ABL), sponsor a seat and/or other parts of the building listed on the website.

Several events will be appearing on the local calendar for you to attend, including the live Soulfish event at the Alban Arena on the 14th September, where all profits go to the Odyssey restoration. (Tickets £15 from Jill.Leslie1@btopenworld.com).

The Odeon Journey has created a fantastic exhibition: ‘The Story of a Cinema, 1908- 1995‘ – A film, sound and visual exhibition featuring the memories of this much-loved cinema. The exhibit is now at the Museum of St Albans until September 3rd. Monday- Saturday 10am- 5pm, Sunday 2-5pm. Watch this space for more info on their live events and workshops.

For anyone wanting to provide financial support, loans and equity are now closed. This year will be your last chance to buy an Advanced Booking List (ABL), sponsor a seat and/or other parts of the building listed on the website. To purchase any of these go to this support page and/or send an email with your request to contactus@odysseypictures.co.uk.

If you didn’t receive this via our mailing list, then you can join up to receive future news by entering your email address right at the bottom of this website. You can also find our contact details here.

Thanks, as ever, to the thousands of supporters, without which this wouldn’t be possible. Now, where’s that paintbrush…