Much-loved Jazz Centre facing eviction wants 'mini-Barbican' in Southend

·2-min read
Much-loved Jazz Centre facing eviction wants 'mini-Barbican' in Southend <i>(Image: Newsquest / Google Street View)</i>
Much-loved Jazz Centre facing eviction wants 'mini-Barbican' in Southend (Image: Newsquest / Google Street View)

A JAZZ centre which is facing eviction by Southend Council says a “mini-Barbican” could be created in the city if “a bit of imagination” was used.

Carole Mulroney, Southend Lib Dem councillor for culture and tourism, last week confirmed that there was no room at the Beecroft Gallery for the Jazz Centre UK.

Ms Mulroney said, after seven years of free rent the council could no longer afford to subsidise it at the gallery in Victoria Avenue, Southend.

In response, Gareth Evans, chairman of the trustees at the Jazz Centre UK , insisted there is plenty of unused space that could be put to better use.

He said: “The fundamental challenge that the council says it is trying to address is one of space.

“We understand and support the council’s desire to offer better access to the artefacts in its care. However, there is currently significant unused space within the Beecroft building, in particular the entire second floor previously occupied by the Hive business centre.

“We also understand that the council has aspirations to use this space to extend the Beecroft Art Gallery but that this will be dependent on securing external funding of which there is no guarantee. So, for the immediate future, there is no shortage of space and - with a little imagination - the gallery and jazz centre could co-exist in the building.”

In her statement, Ms Mulroney revealed there had been friction between gallery staff and those running the jazz centre.

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Mr Evans said: “We also appreciate that staging live music events within the shared space of the gallery may not be welcomed by all but we are willing to address this with the council.

“The Jazz Centre UK is a unique cultural offer in this country and we believe it could be developed into a destination arts hub for music-lovers. We also believe that the Beecroft could be become a multi-use arts centre at the heart of our city, a mini-Barbican.”

Ms Mulroney said: “The second floor is earmarked for other things. We’ve known over the last few years that the two don’t co-exist very well. People are walking round a gallery and it needs to be well-spaced and quiet.

“When they’ve got a concert going on that noise will permeate around the building. I don’t want to see them close but I have to think about the museum service.”