How you can help restore Sheffield’s Abbeydale Picture House to its former glory

Plans have been unveiled that could one day see a historic Sheffield cinema restored to its former glory.

By Dan Hayes
Thursday, 09 May, 2019, 10:14

CADS, the charity that currently manages the Grade-II listed Abbeydale Picture House, want to turn it into a fully-licenced community arts venue in time for its 100th birthday in 2020..

To do this they hope to raise £35,000 through an online crowdfunding appeal, as well as by selling tickets to a programme of films due to be shown at the Abbeydale Road venue in late May.

Kiran Antcliffe , Dan Butlin and Claire Rimmer the CADS team at Abbeydale Picture House which has launched a crowdfunder. Picture Scott Merrylees

Once the building has a full licence, they hope the 400 capacity venue will become self-sustaining, paving the way for more ambitious renovations in the future.

Dan Butlin, fundraising manager, said: “We want to turn it into as nationally recognised venue. It has the potential to be a really special place.

“It is a real landmark for the area. I was really excited to be involved in the restoration.

“Next year it will be 100 years old. If we can get a licence sorted this year we can put something really good together for the centenary.”

Abbeydale Picture House.

“If Sheffield’s antiques quarter had a big grand old building at its centre it would be really fitting.”

The money they hope to raise would pay for a fire alarm, a new CCTV system, new toilets, remedial work around the building and design work and structural engineering for disabled access and a fire escape.

Dan admitted the work they have planned is fairly boring but will be essential if they are to become sustainable as a venue.

“The work is about getting us a full premises licence,” said Dan.

CADS hope to use the money to turn the theatre into a fully licensed community arts venue.

“We only get temporary licenses at the moment which means we can only run about 45 events a year. If we get a full one we can start running events every day.”

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After they have got the full licence sorted, the group hopes to improve the capacity and quality of the venue, and update the audio visual equipment.

In the future they have big plans to create a second venue in the auditorium’s current backstage area and eventually even bring its balcony into full use.

And they hope that getting people involved in raising money for the building will help them generate more funding in the future.

A band playing in the main auditorium.

“One of the benefits of doing a crowdfunder is that it also helps you access more grant funding if you can demonstrate support from within your local community,” added Dan.

According to its Historic England Grade II listing, the striking white tile-clad structure complete with fly-tower features neo-baroque and art-deco influences and a classical style interior.

After opening its doors in 1920, the cine-variety venue ran until 1975 when it closed its doors as an entertainment venue.

After that, it was an office furniture showroom and was later bought and run by the Friends of Abbeydale Picture House until they went into administration in 2012.

CADS – Creative Arts Development Space – were offered a 25-year lease on the building in 2017 because of their track record of taking on difficult old buildings and bringing them back into cultural use.

They lease the building from a landlord who originally hoped to turn it into a climbing centre, but changed his plans when he realised its cultural potential.

How Abbeydale Picture House could look.

To find out more or donate visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/abbeydalepicturehouse.

The view from the balcony.