Phoenix Cultural Centre
During the meeting of Full Council earlier this week I asked what estimate the council has made of the success of the various outdoor music and entertainment events that were held in Woking Park this summer. While most of the events that took place over the last few months have been small concerts involving local schools and community groups, positive feedback has been received about two larger events, Party in the Park and the Big Gig.
Party in the Park was run by council officers and had over 15,000 visitors throughout the course of the day, double the number of visitors in previous years. Satisfaction surveys were completed by visitors and the average score received for the event was 9 out of 10. The Big Gig was organised by the Phoenix Cultural Centre and they too had a great day with very enthusiastic feedback.
As a supplementary I also asked what steps the council takes to let residents in areas adjacent to the park know when such events are happening and what measures are put in place to ensure they are not overly disruptive. I was told the council does appreciate the high impact these events have on neighbouring residents and they try to use early notification and advertising so people know when they will be taking place.
The council tries to encourage the use of public transport for people getting events in the park as this helps to minimise disruption from traffic. For some events the council has people on site to monitor noise levels to ensure that they are not creating a nuisance.
Apart from the fireworks in November, most of the events hosted in the park take place during the day in the summer months, and such concerts are relatively rare, so I feel the right balance has been struck between getting the most out of this important amenity and public space and also making such that residents in Mount Hermon, who benefit from the park all year round, are not excessively disrupted.
Last night the Phoenix Cultural Centre presented a petition to Woking Borough Council requesting assistance in securing a suitable location to accommodate a community cultural centre and live music venue. I have been supportive of the work of the Phoenix Cultural Centre for some time and was pleased to have the opportunity to speak in favour of the project during the debate on their petition.
We have a great musical heritage in the town that goes a lot deeper than the often cited Paul Weller, and during the discussion I referenced a number of bands who started out in the borough and have since gone on to better things. As the council has sought to promote Woking’s cultural offering in the past few years, having some form of dedicated live music venue would help establish our reputation as a borough that provides the resources to help nurture the talent and aspiration of our young people. I also believe that supporting efforts to deliver a live music venue in Woking aligns with what the council has been trying to achieve in the town centre by helping to provide more diverse and better quality evening and night time entertainment.
I commend the work that has been put in by Elaine McGinty and everyone else behind the Phoenix Cultural Centre. They have taken this project from an abstract concept to something that has become popular and successful, and they’ve done it with little in the way of resources or financial sponsorship. By demonstrating their commitment over a number of years, they’ve built a strong case to show that the council should work with them to help realise their ambition for a bigger and better premises.
As a result of the petition, the council has agreed to meet with the Phoenix Cultural Centre and help identify a suitable location as well as different ways in which they can obtain the necessary funding.
This a big step forward and means we can finally start to look forward to the day when Woking will have its own live music venue.