The team behind London’s Village Underground are meeting with Hackney Council’s Licensing Committee today to find out whether or not their plans to redevelop a derelict Dalston cinema in a new 1,200 capacity venue and arts centre have been given the green light.
The meeting, to be held on Tuesday, June 20, will determine whether or not the former Savoy Cinema can be renovated into a new music and arts venue for the local community. The main auditorium, which has been largely unused since the mid-‘90s, will be renovated with many of its original art deco features to be fully refurbished. Two other areas, which have been used as a bar and cafe until recently, will also be given a major overhaul.
Auro Foxcroft, the man behind the project, told Music Week that the meeting is “a really important milestone in the development of this project”.
“We are basically expanding Village Underground, so there will be a larger concert hall downstairs that we are hoping will have a capacity of around 1,200 people,” he said. “Acts that we are breaking at Village Underground can then move on to the new venue when they grow, but we’ll also have other arts programming in there. We’ve subsidised the artier end of our programme, which isn’t financially viable, with commercial events, so we’ll hire the space out for events or conferences.”
Not only is Foxcroft hopeful that the project will be given the go ahead, he also believes that the facility will bring East London up to speed with the rest of the capital.
“I’m optimistic the plans will come through, but it’s all going to be down to the all-important hours and capacity that they grant,” he continued. “Something will come through, but I don’t know what they are going to give us. We’re going to renovate a really beautiful art deco cinema that has been in disrepair for decades into a fully functioning arts centre and venue for Hackney. East London is where the audience is but it doesn’t have a proper large-scale arts centre or venue capable of hosting really exciting, risky, large-scale work, or attracting international acts into the areas.
“You’ve got Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush out west, you’ve got Brixton Electric and Academy down south, you’ve got Kentish Town Forum and Roundhouse in the north and nothing in East London. We’re going to plug that gap. It’s also got a really powerful education and training programme for young people, particularly focusing on young people from challenging backgrounds. We will continue Village Underground’s job of breaking new acts and getting behind emerging talent. We want to reflect the amazing mixed communities of Hackney and London in the programme.”
Should the redevelopment proceed, the venue is tentatively scheduled to open in March 2018.