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Norwich to get new live music venue

PUBLISHED: 06:33 26 October 2011 | UPDATED: 12:37 26 October 2011

Open Youth Trust Centre at Bank Plain, Norwich

Open Youth Trust Centre at Bank Plain, Norwich

© ARCHANT NORFOLK 2009

Norwich is set for a new live music venue - and the people behind the plans hope it will help the city to attract some of the biggest names in the industry.

The Open Venue in Bank Plain has submitted a licensing application to Norwich City Council to sell alcohol at events which are open to the general public aged 18 years and over.

With a full licence, it will mean the venue will be able to hold events for nearly 1,700 people, making it the largest music venue in Norwich.

It is hoped that by launching Open as a live commercial venue, it will be able to attract top acts and in turn create extra revenue for the centre’s youth projects.

Sarah Mintey, principal of the Open Youth Trust, said she was “excited” about the opportunities a licence will bring to the trust.

She said: “The youth work is our core bread and butter but with funding and public sector cuts, we needed to review our business plan to generate sustainable revenue streams.

“Evening events will make us a sustainable trust and help us continue our youth programme. We’ve already got five big acts pencilled in for the next year and we are confident we are going to get the bands in.”

Historically, Norwich has always lacked a large live music venue. The LCR at the University of East Anglia holds about 1,550 people while the Waterfront holds about 700 people in the main room.

Up until now, the Open venue has applied for temporary licences for its evening events which carry a capped audience figure of 499. There is no such limit with a full licence, the capacity is down to how many people the venue can hold.

Once the licensing application was lodged, a promotional video of Open went out on You Tube and within the first few days it received more 200 hits.

Miss Mintey said the majority of the follow on enquiries came from leading promoter and agents from the music industry, including Radiohead’s booking agent Charlie Myatt and Dave Wibberley, who has previously worked with the Stereophonics.

Paul Adam, managing director of Vertigo/Mercury Records, told Open bosses: “Good luck with your new venture from me and everyone at Universal. The venue looks great, all very exciting. Lots of luck not that you’ll need it.”

The plans have also been welcomed by Norwich’s music scene.

Adrian Cooke, director of the Norwich Sound and Vision Music and Film Conference, said: “Norwich has a vibrant music scene and is bursting at the seams with talent.

“The ability to bring the larger acts to a city centre venue can only help grow the music industry infrastructure which is in need of development and launching Open as a live commercial venue would be an excellent way to do that.”

Kate Roma, from Future Radio, said: “This new venue is exactly what Norwich needs. The state of the art facilities will provide bands, musicians and music lovers with a first class experience.”

Under the proposals, it is planned to create a licensed “safe” bar to serve alcohol while promoting responsible drinking at the same time.

Some extra equipment will also be needed to host the top acts and bosses at Open are currently calculating how much it will cost.

The deadline for objections to the licensing application was at midnight last night. Final details and any necessary conditions will be discussed between the applicant and the city council before the licence is granted.

The Open venue opened in phases over the last six years. Connexions opened in the building in 2005, the youth wing opened in 2009 and the conferencing wing opened last year. The centre is now fully operational.

Coldplay are set to play at the LCR at the UEA tomorrow night. Don’t miss coverage in Friday’s Evening News and at www.eveningnews24.co.uk.

Have you got a story for the Evening News? Call reporter Kate Scotter on 01603 772326 or email kate.scotter@archant.co.uk.

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