Back in April we reported that the founders of Village Underground were looking to turn an old art deco cinema in Hackney into ‘a Roundhouse for east London’. Get excited because it’s happening: the council’s licensing committee signed off the plans last Thursday. The team, who 11 years ago turned a warehouse in Shoreditch into a London clubbing institution, have started transforming the old Savoy cinema in Dalston into what’s probably going to be an amazing addition to London’s music and arts venues.
The Savoy originally opened in 1936 but, after 48 years, closed down and was left derelict. Looking at old black and white photos of what the cinema used to look like, it’s a shock to think the space has gone unused for the last 33 years.
Even in the pictures Village Underground have shared of the inside of the abandoned art deco cinema now, you can see – past the rubble and age – it has the potential to be a really cool space. Along the ceiling lie remnants of art deco-inspired structures that the VU owners promise to restore.
Dubbed Hackney’s Art Centre, the revamped space promises to be a hub for all types of arts – talks, comedy, poetry, dance and music, with a focus on up-and-coming, local and experimental talent – and will open by spring 2018. It’s great news considering how nearly half of London’s grassroots venues have closed in the last decade.
At last it looks as though the Savoy cinema is being given a new life. We can’t wait.
Words: Afrin Ahmed