Former Ipswich tourist centre could become new music venue

St Stephens Church, Ipswich.

St Stephens Church on Arras Square could become a new music venue. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Ipswich's former Tourist Information Centre - St Stephen's Church in Arras Square - could have a new life as a live music venue if a weekend festival in the autumn is successful.

The building - which did not reopen as a tourist centre after the first lockdown last year - is to be the focal point for Sound City Ipswich on October 1 and 2.

Sound City Ipswich, the ground-breaking event that transforms the town centre into a two-day multi-venue music festival and conference on 1 and 2 October has announced an exciting new development for 2021.

For Sound City Ipswich it is being set up on a temporary basis as a cafe bar hosting live music across the weekend with late night DJ’s keeping festival goers entertained.

But leading Ipswich councillor Colin Kreidewolf, who has been working with Sound City on the project, said: "If this is as successful as we hope it is, it could just be the start.

"We think as a  venue it could take up to 200 people standing - and it could also be a great hub for events in Arras Square which is going to be improved and could be a very good outdoor entertainment venue."

The borough owns the building directly, it is no longer part of the Ipswich Historic Churches Trust. Mr Kreidewolf said it would need some work - but it was in a good condition.

Sound City co-director and programmer Marcus Neal is delighted to be able to use it as a base.

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He said. ‘It’s the first time we’ve had our own town centre bar and as we’ll be using both indoor and outdoor spaces it will be important to our impact locally as well as helping to keep the town centre visibly alive at night.

"It will provide festival attendees somewhere to call into after the other shows have finished and discuss the day’s events, a buzzing place for both attendees and performers to unwind."

St Stephen’s will have both indoor and outdoor seating and will be open with music and drinks from Thursday, September 30 to launch the festival through to the early hours of Sunday, October 3.

Sound City Ipswich takes place in various venues around Ipswich town centre on Friday and Saturday October 1 and 2.

It presents a hand-picked multicultural mix of upcoming and established bands and includes an industry conference on the Friday.

Among the headline acts are US songwriter BC Camplight and his band; the Mercury Award nominated Porridge Radio; London rapper TrueMendous; Australian avant-popsters The Goon Sax, Ghanaian singer and percussionist Falle Nioke the stylistic restlessness of 6Music darlings Working Men’s Club; black feminist punks Big Joanie and Ipswich’s own rap star Parris Robbo.

There is also a hand picked selection of local and regional talent performing across the festival including a stage hosted by BBC Introducing.

The full venue line up, which also includes The Smokehouse on South Street,  the Corn Exchange and the Cornhill will be revealed soon.


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