Record shop owner Martyn Hooper joins call for new arts centre in Cheltenham
RECORD shop owner Martyn Hooper has spoken out about how difficult it is to find a suitable late live music venue in Cheltenham.
Mr Hooper, who owns The Record Shop in Shurdington Road, said there were no affordable options in the town since The Axiom had closed.
He said there was an absence of a viable licensed arts centre with a strong capacity.
He also put forward his suggestion for a home for a new dedicated arts centre in town – the YMCA.
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He said: "There's lots of issues, but if there was an arts centre place that could be left open to the community – somewhere like the YMCA building which is moving to Hester's Way.
"If that could be converted, maybe that would be a possibility."
Last week the Echo reported how Cheltenham musicians, including former X Factor hopefuls Duke and Kitty Brucknell, had joined local politicians in calling for a multi-functional arts venue to open in Cheltenham.
They said a live dedicated arts centre was needed to serve the town's live music and community arts scene, and attract big-name bands.
Some members of the arts community want to see the Axiom centre in Winchcombe Street, which was sold to a private buyer in 2006 and remains in a state of dereliction, redeveloped and reopened.
Others say it is too late to revive the building, but are looking around for alternative options.
All Saints councillor Klara Sudbury (LD) who has campaigned in the past for The Axiom's restoration, said that Cheltenham Borough Council should have pushed harder to keep hold of the hub at the heart of Cheltenham's creative community.
She fears The Axiom, which she fought to get listed, is now beyond repair, with holes in the roof.
Vinyl enthusiast Martyn Hooper agreed.
He said: "You can't be doing with another Axiom centre, because it was an unsafe building, and there's nothing anyone can do with an unsafe building."
Work has now begun at the YMCA in Vittoria Walk to demolish old supported accommodation units, where youngsters are supervised 24 hours a day, to make way for new ones.
But with just two rooms available for hire, at a maximum capacity of 70, the scope for hosting Axiom-style music nights was "highly unlikely," said a YMCA spokesman.