The Abbeydale Picture House first opened in 1920 and features a unique blend of Art Deco and Arts & Crafts architecture, now recognised as of national interest, and protected by its Grade II Listed status. It began life at the advent of the “talkies”, when hundreds of local families would make the short walk from the surrounding streets at 2pm on a Saturday to pay homage to star-studded movies from the golden age of Hollywood. Unfortunately, by the 1970s, the Cinema trade had shifted forever into purpose-built, city centre multiplexes and the Abbeydale Picture House fell out of favour. Following a few incongruous decades in use as a furniture showroom and a snooker hall, the 1990’s and 2000’s saw the building sat mostly empty and underused, falling ever further into disrepair, home only to the local pigeon population.
We, CADS South Yorkshire, are a grassroots Sheffield-based registered charity who are well used to operating on a shoe-string budget. For 10 years, CADS South Yorkshire has worked tirelessly taking on derelict buildings and against all the odds, bringing them back into use again – as studios for artists, bands and all manner of creative businesses, all the while bringing employment, activity, and cultural vibrancy into places that were devastated by post-industrial decline. A locally based registered charity, we have a track record of breathing new life into buildings in disrepair.
To date we have successfully managed 23 buildings, mostly on temporary leases, and currently manage 5 other sites in Sheffield which house studio spaces, music venues, exhibition spaces and more. We have the contacts, experience and relationships with relevant arts, culture and heritage funders. We have the right community-oriented structures and mindsets to be able to balance social, cultural, and commercial priorities.
The Abbeydale Picture House’s landlord Phil contacted us after hearing our track record with other difficult buildings around the city when he was looking for someone who could successfully manage the Abbeydale Picture House. He began negotiating with us in 2016, and by 2017 we had signed a 25 Year Lease on the building, with a clear and commonly agreed mission:
“To, through the renovation of the Abbeydale Picture House, create a nationally recognised venue for culture and the arts, which also reflects, supports and enriches the cultural diversity of the local community.”
Over the last 2 years, we have gradually brought the Abbeydale Picture House to the centre of our operations; channelling revenue from studio hire generated in our other buildings towards the renovations and improvement of Abbeydale Picture House. Whilst this arrangement has been successful so far, we feel it is time to get the building to a stage where it can stand on its own two feet financially and flourish as a community-led arts venue Sheffield can be proud of.
Since taking on the building we have managed to host more events and activities than have taken place in the previous 20 years, with a more diverse range of artistic media than has ever been seen in the building.
With help from our recent Crowdfunding campaign (you can still donate here), we are currently working on necessary remedial and improvement works to be granted a premise licence. With the addition of a premises license we can continue to develop our work in the building as an arts venue all whilst making further improvements to the building itself. In 2020, this beautiful building will celebrate its 100th birthday, and we want to ensure that the building can continue to function for the next 100 years.
Thanks for reading!