A CINEMA and theatre will open in Daylesford's Rex shopping arcade in an initiative to re-establish the building as a community and cultural hub.
Rex manager Karen Hemming said a group of volunteers had created a not-for-profit organisation to run the Rex Theatre after the owner of the shopping arcade had agreed to back the project by building it and paying for its construction.
Able to seat about 100 patrons and located at the back of the shopping centre, the theatre would serve as a cinema and performing arts venue for community groups as well as a space for events, Ms Hemming said.
She said construction work on the venue should be completed around December.
"The Rex Theatre, Daylesford, as it will be called, will operate as an intimate venue for film and theatre for this region and a hub for people interested in the performing arts and film," Mr Hemming said.
"We've been overwhelmed by the interest. We have so many artists here who perform brilliant work but they go to Melbourne to showcase it."
Built in 1927 in a Spanish theatre style, the Rex hosted numerous events for the residents of Daylesford and surrounding districts throughout the 1930s and 1940s. It was later used for retail space.
The building was reopened as a shopping arcade in 2009 after a two-year redevelopment.
Over the years, there have been numerous suggestions of what the space, in the heart of Vincent Street, should be used for including a cinema and bowling alley.
Ms Hemming said she had wanted to incorporate a cinema into the space for a long time.
"We spoke to the owners and they said 'we'll commit to helping you achieve this'," she said. "It has so much potential to be a multipurpose venue."
Mr Hemming said with construction work on the theatre and cinema underway, there were now just two shops in the complex left to lease.