Should we re-open the Astoria? Why Brighton needs another mid-sized venue

The (former) Astoria Theatre

Brighton, since 2000, has been a city. A city that is full of diversity; a celebration of difference and identity that is unparalleled across the United Kingdom. Why then does such a wonderful city lack the form of venue that would attract bigger acts in the music scene? Brighton deserves much better than the awkwardly-sized Brighton Centre that can just about play host to acts the size of McBusted.

Hold your horses, I think I have the answer.

The Astoria Theatre. That building you walk past pissed at 4 A.M that has those police officers getting off drawn upon it.

Standing somewhat strongly at Gloucester Place, the Astoria is a haunting reminder to all passers by of the potential that Brighton has. The derelict building stands paradoxically as an eyesore and an architectural masterpiece; a shell of what it was and could be. A former bingo hall, and before that a cinema, The Astoria offers so much promise to Brighton’s venue crisis. Spanning at just over 92 acres, the Astoria presents to Brighton what Goldielocks found in the middle bed – a venue not too big, and not too small.

Closed since 2007, the future of the Astoira has been promised as both flats and an eco-driven office block. I can’t help but wonder why a building draped in its formed splendour, with a name so interwoven with entertainment history, can’t be re-opened as a top range music venue that could also maintain its historic identity and entice larger artists to add Brighton on to their tour posters.

I am aware that Brighton has an abundance of live and intimate venues that acts could play at if they chose too. The Haunt, Concorde 2 and others offer Brighton the opportunity to engage with live acts and enjoy the atmosphere; however that can only go so far. Artists such as Bombay Bicycle Club are restricted to larger London venues such as Earls Court that dwarf their potential. Artists look awkward on a stage that is too big, and a stage too small can stop a large amount of fans from being able to enjoy the music.

Artists tend to overlook Brighton when touring. A city as large and unique as Brighton should not be overlooked. The Astoria offers a perfect compromise that suits both artist and fan: a venue large enough that it can be deemed credible but not large enough to stop middle sized acts, and an opportunity for fans to see artists without having to commute and pay London prices, as it would be on their doorstep.

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