Friday, October 09, 2009
By the people of Brighton, for the people of Brighton - the old Music Library, a triumph over hubris?
This is one of my favourite places in Brighton, a throwback to the good old days when people opened up closed or derelict buildings for creative use by the community.
According to My Brighton and Hove,
"The building now in use as the Music Library was erected in about 1925 as an office and showroom for the Brighton and Hove General Gas Company, on the site of the Pavilion Baptist Chapel. This chapel was designed by Thomas Cooper in Ionic style and opened as the Trinity Independent Presbyterian Chapel in about 1825, but in about 1896 it was converted into a bazaar and then a warehouse."
I remember going there as the music library, opposite what was the main library in Church Street, now converted into the bar and foyer of the Dome. It closed in about 2000 when the new Jubilee Library was being planned, then in 2004, this slimy piece of hubris appeared:
"New private members club opening for Brighton's creative crowd.
"The Media Pool is a new private members club that will cater to the media and creative industries in Brighton. It will comprise of three floors with adaptable spaces designed for business meetings, quiet working and relaxing. There will also be a dining room offering fine dining and bar area."
(Source: Brighton Media Centre, another slimy piece of hubris)
Endorsed by the Fanshawe (nuff said then, and I've already used the word hubris three times) and with gushing articles in the Argus about how glamorous film stars would soon be flocking to the town - sorry, "city", it epitomised all that was rotten in the state of wannabe London-by-the-Sea.
And then it never happened.
The building lay empty and rotting until the last year or so, when it's been used for some of the most groundbreaking art shows you'll wish to find. On three floors, using the building's nooks, crannies and huge expanses of wall, it's currently home to a show of darkly humurous imagery (giant crows, rats, twisted religious iconography) and the home to underground events like the magnificent Blind Tiger Club.
Rumour has it (well, we all know how Brighton rumours are) that there are plans to develop it into a restaurant. In the midst of a recession? I know that Brighton's showing few outward signs of hardship, but don't we have enough of those poncey eateries with bleedin Jubilee Street Zilli's, bolloxin Jamie Oliver in the Lanes et al?
How about a venue which provides a space for genuine creativity, run by the people of Brighton for the people of Brighton, not by a cabal of council-backed luvvies or reality tv arrivistes?
Quite a few photos on my Flickr site - search for music library
Rough Music wrote a funny article about the Mediapool in 2005