Colleges save music venue

The Studio
The Studio

A MUSIC venue which looked to be doomed has been saved after two town colleges teamed up to create a rescue package.

The Studio, in Tower Street, Hartlepool, fell into voluntary liquidation in April after struggling to stay afloat during the credit crunch.

The venue, which provided a stage for the town’s music talent and regularly hosted gigs, had been hard hit by falling numbers and had no option but to call in the administrators.

But, as reported in the Mail last month, a mystery benefactor had expressed an interest in breathing new life into The Studio and it has now been revealed that Hartlepool College of Further Education and Cleveland College of Art and Design have agreed a deal to step in.

The colleges are working closely to develop The Studio into a venue for students to use during the day, and to be available to showcase local talent during the evening and at weekends, as well as attracting more high-profile bands.

Michael Bretherick, principal and chief executive of Hartlepool College of FE, said: “This must be seen as an opportunity for Hartlepool students and residents, and while it has come at a particularly hard time in terms of funding, we could not allow this iconic venue to be lost.

“It is with that in mind that we set about looking to draw in our partnerships and secure its future. Our own construction students will use the refurbishment of the venue as an aid in their studies while gaining practical experience.”

The Studio will be refurbished during the summer with a view to opening the doors in September at the start of the new term.

A long-term lease has been agreed, and the colleges will be looking to appoint a Centre Manager in due course.

Mr Bretherick added: “It is envisaged that The Studio will become part of the student experience when studying in Hartlepool.

“We are particularly pleased to add this partnership to the one we have already struck with the Northern Lights Centre at St Hild’s School, meaning we have an unrivalled facility in the region.”

Martin Raby, the principal of Cleveland College of Art and Design, added: “We have been looking to create an education quarter which will give our students a real higher education experience.

“A centre of this sort is not available at any other local college to my knowledge so it can only add to our unique offering already available in Hartlepool. Six hundred higher education students a year will now have a unique social environment to enjoy.”

Phil Swinburne, chairman at The Studio, was thrilled at finally being able to reveal the good news.

Phil, who has been involved with The Studio since 1981 when it was created as The Durham Street Studio on the Headland, said: “The Studio has been going for 30 years and the colleges have helped us to stay alive for years to come.

“It is great for Hartlepool to still have an independent venue that can carry on presenting cutting edge music. Long live rock and roll!”

Staff who feared they would lose their jobs when the venue closed its doors will be involved in the new venture.