COMMENTARY: The rise and fall of the Arbeedee Cinema

The Arbeedee Cinema, located on Bay Street, in the heart of Portsmouth’s commercial district, was the first movie cinema, in the North of Dominica, built by the late Robert Bernard Douglas in 1970.
As the movie business waned in the early 2000s with the rise of DVD, and eventually Netflix, the cinema was shut down by the Douglas’, and the property abandoned.
But in 2015, the grandson of RBD, Cabral, a practicing lawyer in Australia, returned to Dominica, and financed the refurbishing and relaunching of the iconic venue, but this time as an all-purpose entertainment venue, for movies, concerts, fashion shows, school talent shows, international stage shows equipped with a new restaurant.
At the time Cabral Douglas remarked,  “We are seeking to establish Portsmouth as the entertainment and commercial capital of Dominica, and the unveiling of the newly improved Arbeedee Cinema as a multi-purpose entertainment center is simply the first step in the process…”
After a successful relaunch, the business became the first business in Dominica to employ its staff under the National Employment Program.
According to Douglas, in spite of its early successes: “there was mounting pressure from within the family, as not everyone was happy with my relaunch initiatives, and the way one of my guest performers was treated in Dominica (Tommy Lee Sparta) also left a bad taste in my mouth, which led to my decision to close the business.”
In recent times, the Arbeedee Cinema was severely damaged by Hurricane Maria, and in need of some major repairs (see video), but not so long ago, it was a thriving mecca of entertainment and cultural expression, (see pics).

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6 Comments

  1. Viewsexpressed
    January 14, 2021

    RBD Buildy should and must be renovated and fashionable restructed with the best design and style as a multi-entertainment and conference building. It must be done to elevate first the building and secondly that it remains this icon in Portsmouth and for it’s people.
    Good Luck, go for it and All the best.
    Get this promising icon restructured ASP to accommodate the people of Portsmouth and immediate surrounding villages and to attract people from all over Dominica to come relax and be entertained.
    Good Luck to the Douglas family to restore this icon for the people of Portsmouth and surrounding villages and for those who will come from far.
    Good Luck The Douglas Family, the people of Portsy and immediate surrounding villages and loyal Friends. Let’s be entertained. Go for it.

  2. George
    January 14, 2021

    It’s still a great location and valuable land, they could demolish it and build apartments or a new guesthouse…

  3. L C Matthew
    January 13, 2021

    It is a symbol of the Douglas legacy in possi and on possi people. One today that banks its advances on name and the glorious past of the father. Just look at Hampstead estate and thier rep in Parliament

  4. Goodliving
    January 13, 2021

    Make some corrections to this documentary Arbedee movie theater wasn’t the first my brother Ivon Green on Bay Street where my granny sold her tray with tablet and bakes + fried fish with white rice was their before in those days $0.50 for adults $0.25 cents kids

  5. Not a Door Glass
    January 12, 2021

    While opening of Arbeedee Cinema in the early 70s improved the cinema business in Portsmouth, it was not the first cinema in Portsmouth.

    The Government of Dominica should acquire the building to establish a center for creative, cultural and entertainment industries in Portsmouth and the north

  6. Real Possie
    January 12, 2021

    Thanks for all the great memories RBD, but at this stage that building needs to be demolished…

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