X Factor stars Duke join calls for new arts centre for Cheltenham
CALLS have been made to bring a dedicated arts centre back to Cheltenham.
Ten years ago, The Axiom, which attracted the likes of Catatonia and Travis, was put up for sale by Cheltenham Borough Council, and has remained empty since then.
Now, an impassioned plea has been made to provide a new centre for the town – such as The Quadrangle next to the town hall – if the old building can't be restored.
In its heyday, the Axiom was a "very exciting", liberally-minded place to be, said Andy Hayes, who was music manager at the Axiom in the 1990s, putting on live acts "27 nights a month," housing the largest art gallery in Gloucestershire, community theatre, and artist workshops.
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St Paul's ward councillor and musician Andrew Lansley performed at the Axiom. He said: "There's no magic benefactor. If people want it to be reopened, they need to speak up."
Cheltenham MP Martin Horwood said: "Cheltenham has a variety of cutting-edge galleries, performance venues and installation spaces but none of them seem to have recaptured the heart and soul of the local creative community in quite the way that the Axiom did. A new central arts centre with a viable business plan could help provide that focus again."
Cheltenham Borough Council said money from the Axiom's sale funded £500,000 of the art gallery and museum's refurbishment, and £200,000 had been "earmarked" for The Playhouse Theatre.
DJ Richie Abberline joined the call, saying: "What Cheltenham needs is someone who is willing to invest in not just a venue, but somewhere that takes pride in its appearance, and isn't afraid to stand out."
Cheltenham-born X Factor contestants Duke said that with no dedicated gig venue they had relied on pubs.
Ed Travers, from the band, said: "If you play in a bar you are often playing to people just because you're there – if you're playing in a music venue, you have people who want to see live music."
X Factor contestant Kitty Brucknell, who grew up in Cheltenham, added: "In terms of having a proper cultural space that someone, like young musicians, can make use of without having a lot of money, there's nothing."
"It would be amazing if they opened the Axiom again," she added.