MUSIC VENUE SET TO OPEN IN WOKING

Woking’s first official music venue for original music is set to open next weekend on Friday May 25th.

After seven years of planning and appealing to the council, the Phoenix Cultural Centre have finally secured the closed nightclub Quake and have named the venue ‘The Fiery Bird’.

The Phoenix Cultural Centre is “A social enterprise live music venue that will provide a welcoming and inclusive space for the people of Woking and beyond to gather, see original innovative live music of many genres and have an enjoyable night out”.

It has been responsible for many recurring live events in Woking. Including ‘Party In The Park’ (proposed in 2008), in the Woking Park Bandstand and ‘Phoenix Rising’. These both take place annually.

In 2011 the organisation proposed to the council that they should take over the closed pub ‘Rat and Parrot’ on Chertsey Road, but the plans fell through.

The community interest company managed to acquire premises on Goldsworth Road shortly after, where live events such as open mic nights are held as well as computer workshops and other community beneficial events.

Elaine McGinty, founder of both the Phoenix Cultural Centre and Fiery Bird, says that the premises on Goldsworth Road were only ever intended to be a “stop gap” while the team would “research into community buildings”.

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(Image: Darren Pepe)

A petition was heard by the council in 2014 to find a suitable venue. Elected councillors were charged with seeing that this dream was realised.

Elaine said that the town needs a “regeneration”, “one space to make unique and about people in Woking”. The town was full of “musicians with no-where to play” as there was “no space for original music and arts”.

“Woking is a wealthy town with pockets of deprivation” Elaine says. “It’s expensive to go out, and the people who can afford it tend to go out in London instead”. To combat this, the not-for-profit venue will use the money made from touring bands to keep the events at a reasonable price.

The Phoenix Cultural Centre finally received the keys to the closed down club on April 17th this year.

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Elaine realises that a “music venue alone will struggle to survive” therefore it “needs to be diverse”. As the lease is only for 2 years, the Fiery Bird needs to be as much of a success as possible to maximise the chance of it being renewed, therefore during the day it will be a community centre.

The grand opening on Friday the 25th will showcase three local bands including ‘The Sub Tracks’.

Next Saturday, the doors will be open from 2-8pm with acoustic music from bands that have supported the Phoenix Cultural Centre over the years, arranged by Claudia Stark, a local musician, giving the public a chance to register their interest and become a member.

Doors open on Friday 25th May at 7:30pm.

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