We’ve been getting lots of questions about the opening date of the permanent Phoenix Cultural Centre/Fiery Bird Live Music Venue.
Our current situation is that though we have all of the music equipment ready to put in from our last venue that we had to hand back last year, the new building is a shell.
We were offered a permanent building by Woking Borough Council in 2019 to be handed over with the work to make it accessible and with heat, light, water reconnected and toilets installed, we could then install all of the music equipment from the Fiery Bird we were already running and the transition from one to the other was planned to be immediate.
Subsequently as with many, Covid interrupted these plans and we were also advised that due to Covid the money to complete the works before we took over the lease was no longer available. So in November 2020 with support from WBC officers, we applied to Your Fund Surrey for one of the capital grants for communities to refurbish buildings in their area.
Our application is to ensure that the building is accessible so everyone can participate. We already have everything we need to run music events.
The application process was advertised at taking 3-6 months.
This organisation is a community led not for profit that aims to build on the work we started in our previous two venues over the last 11 years to offer work & training opportunities, partner with colleges, schools and charities and be accessible to all.
With great events and gigs from the best on tour around the UK available in the centre of Woking.
An affordable safe place for people of Woking and beyond to enjoy and celebrate the amazing talent we have and can bring here.
For our current, and future residents & visiting audiences, for a long time.
We still await an answer on our application from Your Fund Surrey and so, the venue won’t be ready.
WBC are allowing us to use their brand new Buzz Theatre for the Thomas Gabriel gig on 28 September and that will go ahead, but sadly the other fantastic gigs that we have booked in will have to be cancelled as this is only 90 capacity and not suitable for full bands, it’s also for the use of Italia Conti so may not be available if they’ve moved in.
We have already moved the gigs from last year when we were due to be open and the artists/agents/tour managers have been incredibly patient and supportive. Refunds will, of course be issued.
Our partnership work planned for this September will also be pushed back until we can open the venue. We also have to return the Arts Council funding we secured to see us through the pandemic, employ staff, engage artists, run workshops & training as we have passed the date that it needed to be spent by. We had brought in £.25m of funding over two years to set up the project to succeed.
We also used it to support artists, freelance workers and others who fell through the gap of Covid support running online gigs, gave training to young people in music events, provided music in day care centres, offered poetry workshops to domestic abuse survivors, trained staff and volunteers in safeguarding, mental health first aid & suicide intervention ready for when we could open. This will still be of value however we as yet do not have an indication of a timescale for opening.
WBC have given us use of The Junction Cafe on Monday nights for our open mics and Sunday showcases on the first Sunday of each month for the next six months. All are welcome to these Arts Council supported events. Entry by donation.
Sorry the news isn’t better, as you can imagine we are all gutted to be sharing this but since we have no choice but to cancel gigs, a situation no venue wants to be in and we have to let people know as soon as possible.