Sheffield’s Showroom launches £250,000 campaign on 20th anniversary

The Showroom today
The Showroom today
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Sheffield’s Showroom Cinema is celebrating its 20th anniversary today with the launch of a £250,000 fundraising campaign.

There is no sign of the end credits for this cultural hub - as the campaign aims to bring a world of films and events to eager audiences for many more years to come.

The Kennings building from Shoreham street, in about 1936

The Kennings building from Shoreham street, in about 1936

The independent four-screen cinema, housed in the former Kennings car showroom on Paternoster Row, has been entertaining people since 1995 with a handpicked programme of films, special events and educational activities for all ages.

And now, the landmark institution and registered charity is asking cinemagoers and local businesses to help raise a quarter of a million pounds to improve further the quality of the audience experience.

Peter Brooks, chairman of the trustees, said: “This is an opportunity for the people of Sheffield to help revitalise our iconic venue for the diverse audiences we serve.

“The Showroom has such a proud history already but we’re looking forward to giving it a new lease of life with this exciting refurbishment.

The Showroom chief executive Ian Wild

The Showroom chief executive Ian Wild

“If people get behind our appeal, we’re confident that we will soon have the best independent cinema in the country, right here in Sheffield.”

The money will fund a thorough refurbishment of the four screens, with new seats and fresh carpeting, plus updated foyer areas and customer toilets.

The Showroom’s programme of live events will be enhanced too via the latest lighting and technical equipment.

Ian Wild, chief executive of the Showroom and Workstation, said: “Our audience trust us to bring them a unique programme of films and events - we show films from around the world as well as ones that are made right here in Sheffield, with lots of big new releases as well as small independent films - but in turn we rely on our cinemagoers to support our work.

Old car showroom

Old car showroom

“On our 20th birthday, the best present we can hope for is that everyone will get behind us and help us make our cinema even more special for the thousands of people who visit us each year.”

The Showroom building was rescued from demolition by Sheffield Media and Exhibition Centre Ltd (SMEC) in 1989, when the art deco construction was derelict and unloved.

Long-serving Showroom board member Colin Ponds can still remember the launch of the fundraising campaign to get the project underway.

“One of my favourite memories was the launch, when Richard Attenborough and Wilf Stevenson gave us a cheque for £150,000,” he said.

“Obviously we didn’t have a cinema yet so we got lots of chip board, painted it white and made a room in what later became the cinema and held the ceremony in there.

“We’d effectively opened a building site. But we believed in the idea, we wanted it to happen and so we made it happen.”

The Showroom has gone on to become an internationally significant cultural centre as well as a treasured independent cinema.

Special 20th anniversary events and films will be announced throughout the year.

n For more information and to find out how you can support the campaign, visit www.showroomworkstation.org.uk/showtime

TIMELINE

1936

Building opens as Kennings car showroom

1960s

Roof extension is added

1970s

The building is closed as a garage

1983

Sheffield Council buys the building

1989

Sheffield Media and Exhibition Centre Limited is born

1989

The Showroom Project launched by Sir Richard Attenborough

1990

Completion of initial building work by the council

1994

First Sheffield International Documentary Festival (Doc/Fest)

1995

Opening of Showroom Screen 1 and 2 by Sir Sydney Samuelson, the first British Film Commissioner

First films shown: Woody Allen’s Mighty Aphrodite and Hal Hartley’s Amateur

1997

Cafe/bar and Workstation open

1998

Opening of Showroom Screen 3 and 4 by Pete Postlethwaite

Building is complete

1999

Showcomotion young people’s film festival held over 15 days

2002

Voted the favourite independent cinema of Guardian readers

2004

The Children’s Media Conference is born from Showcomotion, focusing on the future of children’s media and bringing together hundreds of international delegates

2005

Sheffield Adventure Film Festival (ShAFF) begins, celebrating adventure, travel and extreme sports filmmaking

2005

The Constant Gardener becomes the Showroom’s longest run film, showing from October to May 2006

2006

Arctic Monkeys video filmed on the roof

2007

Voted Best Cultural Venue in Sheffield’s Exposed Magazine Awards.

2009

First Celluloid Screams Horror Festival

2009

Chris Morris’ Four Lions shoots scenes on the Showroom’s rooftop

2011

The King’s Speech – the highest grossing film at the Showroom’s box office to this date, with nearly 14,000 attendees

2012

Becomes one of the British Film Institute’s Youth Film Academies.

2014

Recognised as the cultural leader for the region with the award to form Film Hub North, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network

2014

Doc/Fest recognised by Academy Awards as an Oscar-qualifying festival - around 3500 delegates attend. Becomes third largest documentary festival in the world

2015

Named one of the 12 ‘Coolest cinemas in the country’ by Culture Trip