The developments of new flats are putting the future of Bristol’s iconic music venue ‘The Thekla’ under question. News comes after a string of noise complaints from local residents that are breaching the terms of the building’s license. The proposed development consists of a 183 capacity car park and 4816 square metres worth of office space. The bid will see the promotion of trendy homes and stylish business, while a legendary nightclub that has been on the location since 1982 may soon fade into memory. Bristol council’s Pollution Control Team is considering whether or not the converted cargo boat will be able to effectively deal with its internal noise, as to prevent the disturbance of existing nearby residents and future occupants of any potential development at Redcliffe Wharf. In the meantime, the venue has launched a social media campaign, which has gained popular support from the likes of Gilles Peterson, Eats Everything and Roni Size, with the hash tag #SaveThekla.
If the decision does go through, it could severely damage Bristol’s night time economy which relies heavily on live music concerts. Perhaps even more important is the harm that it could do to the region’s musical scene, as this site has nurtured the development of local talent for decades. Grass root venues are vital launching pads for underground artists in the local community and should be treated as institutions that are worthy of protection. It is important to reaffirm that the Thekla’s closure is by no way guaranteed. The developers of the plan, Complex Development Projects, reportedly said that the scheme has been underway for two years now and that if the project is able to go forward, then it will strive to ‘work’ with the venue to limit any possible impacts.
As with the London nightclub ‘Fabric’, we have witnessed how the collective effort of activists, artists and internet supporters can assist in reversing the tides of what once appeared to have been irreversible council resolutions. Even if the result is tighter contracted conditions that The Thekla has to abide to in the future, at least this historic venue will survive the relentless momentum of urban developments, which are leaving no part of the UK’s music scene untouched.
Article by Yohannes Lowe.