The Village Underground, who hope to develop the site of the old Savoy Cinema, await an important vote from the Hackney council before moving forward with their plans.

The potential new venue, the Hackney Arts Centre, however has not been without objections from neighbors and local activists. The main concern with the new venue is the businesses it could potentially displace. On the more immediate front, current tenants in the building will be replaced, Epic, Efes Snooker Club, and the Turkish Islamic Association.

ABC/Savoy Cinema in its glory days, and today

Locals are also concerned about the potential impact on nearby cultural institutions, specifically the Rio Cinema and Arcola Theatre. Their concerns include the fact that the existing community venues are already underfunded and could be driven to closure.

In a report by Make, a consultant doing an impact study on behalf of the developers, they state, “Additional cultural investment will reinforce the outstanding but limited (and small scale) arts destinations in Dalston, such as Café Oto, the Rio Cinema, Vortex Jazz Club, and Arcola Theatre. However, Dalston needs more ‘flagship’ and ‘anchor’ venues and services (such as the impressive CLR James Library) to add weight and gravitas to the network of small venues, creating ‘cultural critical mass.’”

The report goes on to point out that London has lost “half of its music venues” in the last seven years and that smaller and grassroots venues are continuing to struggle to stay open.

Local residents and the local police are also separately concerned about the presence of another venue in the area and the potential associated noise and rise in citations that could occur.

What side do you fall on? New venues are good for the local music scene or this development will hurt the existing community. Let us know on Twitter!


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