Abbeydale Picture House launches ‘dry’ bar and issues update on purchase process

Sheffield arts charity CADS, who are currently six years into a 25-year lease of the Abbeydale Picture House, are launching a pop-up ‘dry bar’ on 12 January, providing a range of non-alcoholic drinks. On Sunday 22nd they will also host a ‘baby rave’ event from 12pm – 2pm for families who have the urge to dance but can’t stay up too late! The month will conclude with a techno based Collect! event on the 28th, making use of all the available parts of the building. 

Abbeydale Road has a rich history of ‘Temperance Bars’ which were popular during the heyday of the cinema; signage for a neighbouring temperance bar is still visible on a neighbouring antique shop. These establishments would typically serve Sarsaparilla, cordials and other botanical concoctions as an alternative to alcohol-based drinks. The modern dry bar at the Picture House will include delicious alcohol-free beer, wine and spirits.

Abbeydale Picture House

The new ‘Side Bar’ area, which now looks like a speakeasy 1920s style saloon bar, will be the location of the new pop-up dry bar, perfect for those who never drink and those who are looking to cut down or go dry for January in 2023.

This new bar is just the first of a huge wave of new events, markets and screenings planned. The public are invited to consider uses of the building for public events, markets, and private hires. All enquiries should be directed to info@cads-online.org

2022 was turbulent year for CADS, who saw themselves evicted from the picture house following a dispute with the landlord over roof repairs. They returned following a resolution with the owner and then created a new bar and event space. They rounded the year off by announcing that a deal had been agreed to purchase the building.

Abbeydale Picture House

Phot credit: Timm Cleasby

However, in yet another twist to the story, the application from the UK Government’s Community Ownership Fund has not been successful leading to a shortfall of over £250k in the amount needed to buy the building.

The team at the Abbeydale Picture House have now renovated and reopened several parts of the building in recent months but are still unable to use the main auditorium with its unique and beautiful barrel-vaulted ceiling. With huge costs associated in running the building the CADS team are keen to hear from anyone keen to partner on the purchase, to run events in the space or take on particular areas of the venue.

The main auditorium remains dangerous, uninsurable and in need of huge investment before it can be used. In addition to the roof damage the rear fire escape ramp required for the auditorium is subsiding and also in need of serious work. The CADS team are clear that owning the property is the best way to unlock the funding and investment needed to bring the whole building back into public use.

Abbeydale Picture House

Despite the areas of the space no longer in use, the CADS team have the dramatic and historically important ‘Fly Tower’ located behind the original cinema screen with a 60 capacity which has the antique fire screen still in situ. This area has been made into an event space that played host to recent World Cup football screenings and regularly hosts, bands, performances and even wedding receptions.

CADS’ Steve Rimmer said: “Although we were sad to hear the news of the COF grant being unsuccessful, we’re absolutely thrilled with the progress made in the last month at The Abbeydale Picture House.

“Our new bar has proved popular and the public support for the whole project has been phenomenal. We’re still determined to gain ownership of the building and our 25-year lease ensures that we can continue to make use of as much of the building as possible as we continue our mission to restore the entire space.

“The scale of work needed is daunting and when the listed status is taken into consideration it’s clear the building is unviable as a purely commercial enterprise. The charitable status of CADS means we are able to seek grants funding and social finance giving us hope for the eventual full restoration. The restoration project is in line with the charitable objectives of CADS.

Abbeydale Picture House

Photo credit: Lindsay Melbourne

“Abbeydale Road and the surrounding area plays host to a huge range of cultures and nationalities. We are determined to bring everyone into the Picture House and implore the public to come forward with ideas and suggestions on how the space can be used.

“We’re very grateful to our landlord for giving us a realistic time frame in which to complete the purchase before it goes onto the open market as we look for additional funding to replace the COF grant.

“Although we have a mortgage in place the bank’s valuation of the space is significantly less than the asking price due to their assessment of the state of repair and ‘renovation deficit’ but we believe the cost justifies the benefits to the people of Sheffield in preserving, modernising this building which can flourish into long standing community asset.”

The Picture House Social bar which is located underneath the main theatre remains untouched and in business. The bar’s owners have also signed a long-term lease and will remain open and operational regardless of any change in ownership of the building.

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