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Bands won't play no more...

...but they will do somewhere else. More worrying is how the revenue loss will affect Static's artistic strand

Written by . Published on March 7th 2012.

Bands won't play no more...

LET'S get this straight. Static has done some sterling artistic work in the past and still is doing.

It's one of the only truly innovative arts organisations in Liverpool. They don't shout about it from the rooftops. They don't employ PR people to tell you about any of it  -and if they did, they would be poorer for it - in every sense. 

Hopefully a way can be found for the gallery to thrive on what it really does extraordinarily best

For example, the various biennials it has exhibited at around the world, which can't help but turn eyes to the city. Or Terminal Convention, which brought the cities of Cork and Liverpool together twice last year. The programme over both events was immense. Did the city's mainstream newspapers cover any of this? Well, in the end, one of them did, but only when a "name" got involved. That's how it works.

Noodle BarNoodle BarWho really knew, for example, about the Korean noodle bar experiment unless you happened to be having a conversation with Static's director, Paul Sullivan, a Liverpool-born architect by training.

How did it that story go again? A family of chefs, recruited on a head-hunting trip to Seoul, were brought over to do their stuff in the gallery's cafe space. The move quickly landed all parties in hot water with National Border Control. How to get around it? By turning the family and their woks into a performance art installation. That's how.

And like all great art, the accidental sort or otherwise, one wonders if it was all a dream when one recalls it. Like then.

No, Static has a knack for concepts, curating and lecturing around the UK and abroad, and a cup of tea with Sullivan, and hearing about what he is up to, is never less than illuminating. Concepts that, had they happened in bigger, better resourced organisations like FACT or The Bluecoat, would be press released and private viewed to death, bakrolled by the taxpayer. We're talking engaging, talk-about concepts that would firmly pin Liverpool at the centre of the UK's cultural map, from where it insists it still belongs but from where it has lately drifted.

Paul SullivanPaul SullivanAnd there's the rub: “better resourced.” Without masses of public funding enjoyed by the others, Static's main income stream - which allows it to do the do in so many more interesting ways - is venue hire.

Only in the past couple of years, however, has this been the case. More serendipity- for the bank manager - when bands like The Wild Swans, DJs and promoters like Harvest Sun discovered that the back exhibition room, in the shed that is 23 Roscoe Lane, just about ticked every box. Intimate performing space, good acoustics, low key and an excellent bar. No Jaegerbombs, just good beer and wine.

Not any more. Last year a college lecturer moved into rented a flat around the corner. They complained to the council about the noise from Static (and, it does have to be said, rather than the nearby Hanna's Bar). Supported by Councillor Steve Munby, a noise abatement order was issued.

Noise Abatement
Instead of taking the line of making more noise to fight it, or the tenant, Static held a debate. It got the chatterati going but, ultimately, got it nowhere.

Yesterday it announced compliance.

Harvest Sun and its scene will relocate to another space and it is to be hoped that remaining performers will not have to rely too much on “corporate indie” bars like The Shipping Forecast or Parr Street Studios for a platform.

All those howling about the city centre and who is it for, or calling for Munby's blood, carry on; Indeed, before holding a funeral, remember the situation may yet be resolved.  

However when Static was set up it wasn't about music and, had its owners - or the promoters involved for that matter - wanted to invest their funds, time and energy soundproofing the room to keep the new model going, who would have stood in their way?

Static 2

But these are tough business decisions in tough times and Static has perhaps had to remind itself about what it is for and where its focus lies.

Hopefully a way can be found for the gallery to thrive on what it really does extraordinarily best. It would be a far darker day for the city's culture if the quiet, original verve, which has long marked Static out, were to slip through its fingers.

Such a loss would genuinely be an event to make a noise about.


*Follow Angie Sammons on Twitter 

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Darth FormbyMarch 7th 2012.

This is a shame, and so is Steve Numpty. By the way, the Shipping Forecast is the dawning of the Age of the Idiot. Don't Go!

SidMarch 8th 2012.

nice appraisal, but the noodles was a shite idea. i too rubbed my eyes when I just read it again

AnonymousMarch 10th 2012.

Heavens! Balanced writing on this subject which has been blown up to hysterical levels. I moved out of Rodney St because I couldn't stand the noise of any of the city centre. Simples.

Nothing more to see now move on

AnonymousMarch 10th 2012.

Seriously, I live behind Static, the noise was never bad. But the most important things is this: Why they hell did you move into the city centre if you never want to hear any noise whatsoever, and you're going to complain about it to the fact that it seriously damages local business people? WTF?

If you don't like the noise, move. If you don't want to move, deal with it. The noise outside my windows facing Berry St is loud every night, am I going to complain about it? Hell no. It's part of living in the city. And to move in, and complain about a business that's already been there? You have no right! It was there before you ever thought of moving in, so should not have to comlpy with what you think your new neighborhood should be like.

I've been to many housing meetings in Liverpool where all the attendees do is complain about the noise, their neighbors and anyone or anything else that they don't like. But then continue to say they want to live in the city centre because of all the benefits of vibrance, culture, etc. You can't have it all! You can't cherry pick the parts YOU like, and get rid of the parts YOU don't like. Others in the city centre also have a right to be here, and do the things we want. It's a compromise, like everything else in life.

Go move to the suburbs where it's quiet, you'll have that, but then you won't have the city life. See? There's the compromise.

On another note, what about the people that work in Static? What about those businesses who rent studio space? Static houses some incredible local, independent talent who have been thriving during the economic downturn in part to being in Static. What happens with lost revenue? What happens if Static has to shut? Are those businesses going to be forced to uproot, move and start all over? That costs money, would you like to complain enough to pay for it?

Different anonMarch 10th 2012.

I would personally have loved the opportunity to live in the city centre when I was in my 20s but there just weren't any places to do so, apart from a very trendy few who lived on Bold Street.

Mind you, being a party animal, it probably would have killed me. You have to be a certain sort of creature to live in the city centre - Liverpool city centre anyway. It's way more compact than Manchester so it's inevitable that you will be on top of bars and music venues.

I have lived in some of the most vibrant cities in the world, right at the centre of the nightlife. This problem is easily overcome with one thing: double glazing.

user8242March 11th 2012.

It never fails to amaze me when people move next door to an established venue and then complain about the noise but it happens all the time. Even when I worked in a large Manchester venue that had been providing live entertainment for 120 years, we had a busy body in the new build apartments opposite who was constantly complaining about the noise and crowds. I've heard of other cases in Liverpool, Oxford and all over really. It maddens me that one of them has actually 'won'.

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