– 27-01-2016 –
CINEACT FOUNDATION OPPOSES THE CHANGE OF USE FOR THE ABC FROM CINEMA TO “COMMERCIAL SERVICES” PREMISES
The public inquiry began on Friday, January 22.
The Consultation Committee meeting will be held on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.
It is almost two years since we launched our bid to rescue the historic ABC cinema, located on Boulevard Adolphe Max, Brussels, Belgium.
As you are probably aware, our plan received great support, not just in Belgium but from around the world, and it was well on its way to becoming a reality when a major problem arose which has remained unresolved until this month.
Now the time has arrived for Cineact Foundation to make its case to Brussels city authorities, to oppose the planning permission application and the change of use proposed by the new owner of the building, the property company Stephano Immo.
Instead of a cinema, Stephano Immo wishes to have the space currently occupied by the ABC re-classified for use as a two-storey business, under the generic description of “trade in services”.
To recap the events which led to the current situation: Cineact Foundation reached an agreement with Mr Scott, the owner of the ABC, to lease it and to run it as a film and arts venue.
Unfortunately Mr Scott passed away just before the lease was signed and, despite the fact that we had already been given keys to the premises and had commenced preliminary work, the entrance was padlocked and we were unable to gain further access.
We had no option other than to commence legal proceedings against Mr Scott’s heirs who, in the meantime, sold the building housing the ABC to Stephano Immo. This legal proceeding is ongoing, with the first hearing due in 2017.
In January 2015 we made the surprising discovery that Mr Dykman, a company director of Stephano Immo, was one of the donors who had supported our project to rehabilitate the ABC cinema.
This is significant because it shows that, when Mr. Dykman bought the building, he did so knowing that it was designated for use as a cinema instead of retail or other commercial use.
In August 2015 it was announced that, on July 15, 2015, a planning permit application had been submitted by Stephano Immo for a change of use for the building at 147-149 Boulevard Adolphe Max (the ABC). The designation for use as a cinema has been in place since 1972.
SO HOW CAN YOU HELP?
The public inquiry into the change of use began on Friday, January 22, 2016 and will end on Friday, February 5.
The meeting of the Consultative Commission is scheduled for Tuesday, February 16th. It is at this meeting that the fate of ABC cinema could be decided… for better or for worse.
So please mark this date in your diary and, if at all possible, come and support us!!
Please note that, during the period of the public inquiry, anybody can access the plans submitted to the Brussels Town Planning records by Stephano Immo.
Comments and / or complaints can be sent to: [email protected]
It is important for our case that as many people as possible make their views known about Stephano Immo’s plans for the building itself, as well as in support of the continued use of the theatre as a place dedicated to culture and not to trade.
You can also ask to speak at the meeting of the Commission for consultation, whether you are a resident of the district, an individual supporter of our campaign or you represent an association.
To do so you must make an application before February 5th, 2016:
to the College of Mayor and Aldermen at the following address:
Secretariat of the Consultation Committee
Town Planning Department of the City of Brussels
Boulevard Anspach 6
in person, during the public inquiry, to the designated official for this purpose at the Administrative Centre, every working day from 9am to 12pm
or by e-mail at the following address:
It would help us if you can let us know if you wish to speak at the Consultative Committee meeting.
In 2014, at the Nuit Blanche event, CineAct Foundation launched our Save the ABC petition, requesting that the City of Brussels maintains the building at 147-149 Boulevard Adolphe Max as a movie theatre.
It has attracted huge support but, if you have not already signed, please could you spare a minute to do so now:
We will keep you informed of how events develop…
– 06-01-2015 –
Stephano Immo estate agency demolished ABC cinema interior!
The Cineact Foundation was created in March 2014 to save the ABC cinema, and since then it has made phenomenal efforts to rescue this unique cinema which only projected 35mm prints and, unlike the vast majority adult theatres, never converted to digital.
Cineact’s aim was to preserve the building, in recognition of its cinematographic and cultural significance, with the ultimate intention that it would become a home not just for film but all kinds of cultural and artistic activities. Using crowdfunding, and with the support of the King Baudouin Foundation, in a matter of days Cineact managed to raise €60,000, donated by 600 supporters.
But sadly, despite this incredible effort, fate struck a cruel blow. In early May, a few days before the scheduled date for the signing of the lease, the original owner – who was a distributor as well as exhibitor – sadly passed away and the building became the property of his heirs. Despite their promise to respect the agreement, the new owners sold the building Stephano Immo without giving notice to Cineact.
After an emergency session of the district court on October 3, 2014, a Justice of the Peace ruled that the lease – which Cineact argued had been agreed was not legally valid. But the court did recognise that there was a legitimate concern about right of occupancy agreed with former owner.
So Cineact found itself locked out. The first public event had been planned for the annual Nuit Blanche celebration of cinema on 10 October 2014 but, instead of celebrating Brussels’ popular, genre cinemas inside the ABC, a crowd of cinema lovers was forced to gather below the iconic billboard of the marquee, outside the shuttered entrance.
That same evening, a petition was launched by Cineact, in an attempt to safeguard the continued use of the building as a cinema. In a matter of days, more than 1,200 people signed the appeal – over 400 on the night of Nuit Blanche followed by more than 800 on the internet. This petition was presented to the City of Brussels and is listed on the agenda of the meeting of the municipal council next Monday, 12 January.
Cineact also decided to appeal against the district court ruling, in an attempt to enforce its verbal agreement to rent the building. At the same time, it attempted to initiate a dialogue with the new owner in the hope that this might lead to a short-term lease – from several months to a few years – while permits were obtained by Stephano Immo for the proposed redevelopment. At the end of last year, in the presence of counsel for both parties, Cineact Foundation sent a rental proposal to Stephano Immo, but there was no response.
Then, on Monday 5 January, there was a catastrophic development. It began with an industrial waste skip being deposited in front of the ABC and soon it was being filled with seats, air ducts, the contents of the projection booth… The new owner was stripping the premises of anything and everything which might have made it possible to use the building as a cinema again.
This has been done just a week before the first appeal hearing, which is scheduled for Tuesday, January 13. The accompanying picture sadly witnesses the final victory of a profit-seeking property developer over a unique part of Brussels’ cinema scene and which could have evolved into a vital home for cultural activities, in part of the city which is lacking in artistic venues, well into the 21st century.
– 04-12-2014 –
The end of the year is fast approaching
The end of the year is fast approaching and we still do not see the end of the ABC saga!
Following the judgement delivered on 3 October – which did not recognise the commercial lease to the Foundation Cineact but nonetheless confirmed that there was indeed a right of occupancy established with the former owner – on the night of Nuit Blanche we found ourselves on the sidewalk, in front of the ABC’s shuttered facade. This was supposed to be our first public opening but, despite the disappointment and rain, the evening was nice and warm. We thank all who have helped and the public who came along to support us.
Building on the media interest in the Nuit Blanche and this year’s theme being a tribute to a bygone time of culture and cinema theatres in the centre of the City, and in a final attempt to ensure that the ABC cinema does not disappear, Cineact launched a petition to request that the land designation for the site on which the ABC stands remains as a ‘theatre’. On that one evening, Cineact collected more than 400 signatures in a few hours; and more than 850 in the days that followed, via our website.
The petition was presented to the City of Brussels in November. It will be discussed by the College of Mayor and Aldermen in early January, when next local council meets.
As well as the petition, we have contacted the new owner of the building and we have offered to lease the ABC, as we previously expected to. We are hoping for a meeting to discuss this soon.
As for the money raised through donations, it is still held in an account belonging to the King Baudouin Foundation, specifically for this project, and we continue to receive your standing orders. However, it will require a decision before the end of the year, to estimate the feasibility of the project. We are in the process of discussing the best way to act with experts in tax matters. We still hope to announce that the ABC will be saved but, if we fail, the money raised will be refunded to all donors.
We will update you as soon as we know more. Fingers crossed!
– 2-10-2014 –
Today, Thursday, we have not yet recieved a verdict from the magistrate. We hope to learn of his decision soon, but in the meantime it becomes clear that the event we planned during Nuit Blanche can not take place inside the ABC Cinema. However, we do have a plan B and will welcome the public on the sidewalk, in front of the the ABC, with as much of the planned activities as possible.
– 26-09-2014 –
CINEACT wages juridical battle for the rescue of ABC Cinema, expects ruling from magistrate on
Tuesday 30 September Wednesday 1 October.
After a first introductory session on Thursday September 25, the magistrate will hear both parties next Tuesday before making his final judgement. The Cineact foundation will then know if it can organise a first activity in the ABC Cinema during Nuit Blanche, and if it can assert its rights as de facto tenant of the building.
Following a successful fund-raising campaign, the Cineact foundation announced earlier this year that the ABC Cinema was saved, thanks to the support of more than 650 donors. A new cinematic adventure could make its start in one of Brussels’ last remaining mono-volume movie theatres, a little gem of modernistic architecture from the seventies.
However, the sudden passing of the owner brought a change. Despite their earlier commitments, the heirs questioned the validity of our lease. They forbid us access to the theatre, where we had already began renovation works, as they decided to sell the building. Fully convinced of the validity of our agreement, we took them to court.
After a first session on Thursday September 25, a hearing is scheduled on Tuesday September 30, and we can soon expect a decision made by the magistrate. This means we’ll know if we can open the cinema for the public only a few days before the actual event of the Nuit Blanche – this year dedicated to the many movie theatres that were once found on the central boulevards of Brussels. We’ll also know if we can finally celebrate the rescue of the ABC Cinema and continue the further development of an exciting new cinematic hotspot in the heart of Brussels.
– 26-08-2014 –
We are currently busy with the preparation of the first public opening of the ABC Cinema for the Nuit Blanche on 4 October. But at the same time, we are faced with a setback and a very complicated legal situation. The heirs of the former cinema owner have decided to put the building up for sale. This does not need to be an obstacle for the future development of the ABC project, were it not that the heirs suddenly put our lease into question. By this, they disregard the agreement they had made with us and even forbid us access to the building.
We make every effort to assert our rights and to overcome this impasse. We will keep you posted about the evolution of the situation and hope to reach a successful conclusion as soon as possible.
– 06-07-2014 –
ABC Cinema… the saga continues!
The mobilization to save the ABC Cinema received a lot of media attention, and the donation campaign reached a successful conclusion. But then it suddenly seemed like everything went quiet. However, behind the scenes a new episode began in this great ABC adventure. It forced us to a certain restrain in our public communication. Now is the time to break this silence and inform you of the current state of affairs.
In early May, a few days before the scheduled signing of the commercial lease, the owner of ABC Cinema passed away. First of all, we would like to express our deepest sympathy to the family and former workers of ABC Cinema. We also want to pay tribute to the work of this film pioneer, who has earned his place in the alternative history of Belgian cinema. With the ABC cinema chain, once found in different Belgian cities, he created an outlet for the growing erotic film industry of the era. Think of the works of Russ Meyer, Radley Metzger, Doris Wishman or Jess Franco, but also of lesser-known films with overblown titles like “Great Sex-pectations”, “Mon curé chez les minettes” or “Meisjesinternaa(k)t”. With his distribution company “Atlantic Films”, he also played an important role in the distribution of these taboo-breaking films. Moreover, he left the ABC Cinema on the Boulevard Adolphe Max: a gem of modernist architecture from the seventies.
His passing meant a significant change in the legal status of the dossier. The initiative is now held by both the notary office that handles the succession, as well as the real estate agency with which we rounded off the negotiations. We are waiting for them to give us green light to sign the lease as a formal conclusion to the process.
Since early April, we hold the keys to the building and are ready to start the first renovation works. However, as long as there is no clarity in the succession, we can not yet take these steps. We hope that the situation soon gets cleared up, so that we can organize a first public event this summer, as we have promised.
Please know that the money raised is still in the account at the King Baudouin Foundation and that additional donations are still welcome. We can use all the support for the eventual realization of this great adventure.
See you soon for the next episode!
– 05-06-2014 –
Benefit night at L’eau chaude – Het warm water this Friday June 6th
(25 rue des Renards, 1000 Bruxelles – from 6p.m.)
L’eau chaude – Het warm water, the coop café in the Marolles is kind enough to organise a benefit night for our project. There will be sexy food cooked by Miguel and a hot party with DJ 42’s sound system.
The profits will go to the ABC support campaign!
campaign video can be seen on most of Brussels’ silver screens. It will be shown before each film in the following theatres: Aventure, Galeries, Nova, UGC De Brouckère, UGC Toison d’Or and Vendôme. Thanks go to them for this unbelievable visibility. The ABC is everywhere!
– 23-04-2014 –
Follow-up on the deadline
Thank you for all the support !
The initial deadline for our campaign is almost upon us. We will publish the current results of the donations tomorrow evening, when we receive the weekly update from the Fondation Roi Baudouin.
We can already gladly announce that we have managed to fix the signing of the rental contract on April 30, and not this week as originally thought. This means we’ve got another week to collect funds.
We still need your support to help save ABC Cinema so keep spreading the word!
– 20-04-2014 –
Concerts in Mariniers
6, rue des Mariniers, 1080 Molenbeek
Besoin dead + Massicot + Usé + Trashley
The profits of the bar will be donated to ABC.
– 20-04-2014 –
SOS ABC Cinema : The video!
Thanks: Philippe, Guillaume and Nicolas,
Music: Pierre Bastien.
– 18-04-2014 –
Weekly review of our project account hosted by Foundation Roi Baudouin, April 17 2014
(The numbers below may not include the latest transactions.)
We already count 212 donors and have a total amount of €15,032 on the account. If we consider the standing orders, this translates to about €28,000 spread over 12 months, which represents: 47% of our goal of €60,000.
Now more than ever, we need your support, as well as your friends’ and acquaintances’, to achieve the goal of €60,000 !
The next review of the account will be received on April 24 and communicated as soon as possible on the website.
– 15-04-2014 –
Benefit night at cinéma L’Univers (Lille)
This Sunday April 20, L’Univers organises a benefit for us, with vintage films and music. All profits go to ABC!
More info here.