The Art-Deco building, on Abbeydale Road in Nether Edge, had been run by the Creative Arts Development Space (CADS) charity but staff say they were devastated to find that they had been unexpectedly evicted.
CADS says this follows an ongoing dispute with the building’s landlord around repairs to the roof of the main auditorium, which has been closed since December 2021.
Events have since been staged in the Fly Tower, at the rear of the Abbeydale Road building, and have included film shows and weddings. The Yorkshire Silent Film Festival All Dayer was due to take place on Sunday, May 15, and organisers are now seeking another venue.
The CADS team say they are still hopeful that an amicable settlement can be reached. They took over after a deal with owner Phil Robins, negotiated by law firm Wake Smith.
The 25-year lease was said to include complex and unique provisions regarding the tenant actively seeking restoration funding. CADS says it has raised just under £100,000 which has already been invested into the building. Wake Smith declined to comment due to confidentiality issues.
Steve Rimmer, spokesperson for CADS, said: “Our goal for the Picture House was to restore this Grade II listed building to its former glory and ensure it was an asset to the Sheffield community. The vision for CADS has always been to breathe new life into Sheffield’s disused and dilapidated spaces.
"Although we’re incredibly pleased with all that has been achieved at the Picture House so far, there’s still huge amounts of work needed to make this building safe and usable for the future.”
He added that a specialist report into the condition of the plaster vaulted ceiling in the auditorium found areas at risk of collapse due to water damage, causing a potential danger to life of audience members.
CADS immediately closed the auditorium to the public and says this has resulted in a loss of income of more than £80,000. The CADS team say they are still committed to the venue and are legally challenging the eviction.
Mr Rimmer said: “We believe that the terms of our lease with the landlord show that he is responsible for maintaining the roof.”
Picture House Social - a bar run in the lower section of the Abbeydale Picture House – remains open and is unaffected by the eviction of CADS.
Mr Robins purchased the iconic cinema in October 2012. In a statement on the Wake Smith website in 2017, he said: “We’ve been down a long road of refurbishment and built up a programme of events run via temporary events notices but we’ve gone as far as I can take it.
“I first began speaking with CADS last July and saw a synergy between their work and my vision for the building. As a charitable cause they can access funding grants and will work towards improvements and gradually restoring the building. This is the scale of investment that is needed.”