Campaigners battle for successor to iconic venue

Campaigners lobbying for an appropriate replacement venue for the soon-to-be-demolished London Astoria have told NME.COM that they think the 250-capacity theatre being touted isn’t good enough.

The Astoria won the Best Venue award at the Shockwaves NME Awards this year, despite being forced to close its doors in January. The venue will be demolished as a station at Tottenham Court Road is built for the Crossrail project.

However despite promises from former London mayor Ken Livingstone that the venue will be replaced after the development with a “larger live music venue”, fans say current plans are not good or big enough.

“We found out from Westminster Council that there has been a proposal of a replacement theatre, but only of 250 seats,” campaigner Jenny Wong told NME.COM, pointing out The Astoria‘s capacity was 2,000. “It’s so bad – its not even quarter of the size.”

Wong – who is running the campaign with her friend India Walker – said attempts to speak to the council, Crossrail and Boris Johnson have all been fruitless.

“We got a reply from his [Boris Johnson‘s] secretary saying, ‘We’re concerned about this that and the other and there will be a replacement’, but that Boris Johnson isn’t in charge of it. They told us it was Westminster Council that was responsible, but then they told us Crossrail were responsible.”

When Wong spoke to Crossrail, they also denied being in charge of the new venue.

The duo are now planning to rally support for a replacement, and are even considering organising a protest march to force someone to take responsibility.

“We have a Facebook group of nearly 3,000 members at the moment, and on the [internet] petition we have about 900 names,” she explained. The petition can be signed at Petitiononline.com/nastoria.

“I just think it’s the best venue in the world,” said Wong of why the Astoria‘s successor is worth fighting for. “There are other venues in London, but it still is the only one in central London.”

Johnson‘s office, however, said the mayor was unconcerned about the future of The Astoria, telling NME.COM that: “The mayor hopes the new venue will make a contribution to the cultural and entertainment vibrancy of the area similar to that of the old Astoria.”

They added that they and the council agreed that a 250-capacity venue was “unlikely to be viable” for central London.

To read the full story of The Astoria campaign, get the new issue of NME, out now.