Call for more music venues and cultural spaces for young people in Ipswich

Suffolk Young Labour Party petitioned for more live music venues in Ipswich following the closure of

Suffolk Young Labour Party petitioned for more live music venues in Ipswich following the closure of Pump and Grind - Credit: Archant

Ipswich has been dubbed a “cultural wasteland” that needs to improve its music scene and offer more for young people.

Pump & Grind, at the corner of Northgate Street and Great Colman Street in Ipswich, which closed in

Pump & Grind, at the corner of Northgate Street and Great Colman Street in Ipswich, which closed in December. - Credit: Archant

Nearly 1,000 people have signed a petition launched by Suffolk Young Labour Party (SYLP) calling for new, modern venues in the town that can fill the void left by the closure of Pump & Grind.Seventeen-year-old Charlie Nixon, of SYLP, said: “Young people want more cultural spaces and live music and they want to see bands play in Ipswich.

“At the end of the day young people don’t want to see the tribute acts, they want to see the bands that are upcoming and have a buzz.

“Culture seems to be dying in Ipswich and what happens is people my age are going away to university and they see no reason to return.”

Mr Nixon, a student at One sixth form in Ipswich, has urged the University of Suffolk (UoS) to follow the lead of the University of East Anglia in Norwich, whose students’ union runs two music venues in the city.

Tom Kerridge at Pump & Grind.

Tom Kerridge at Pump & Grind. - Credit: Archant

A thriving social environment will draw more people to study in Ipswich, Mr Nixon said.

Pump & Grind was an independent pub in Great Colman Street run by Tom Kerridge that attracted a younger audience as it hosted underground musicians and innovative events. It was forced to shut in December due to a dispute over the lease agreement.

Mr Kerridge has now found a potential space to launch a fresh venue and he is in talks with the landlord of the building.

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The new business will be like Pump & Grind, Mr Kerridge said, but more focused on putting on events and gigs.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere supports the campaign.

Ipswich Borough Council leader David Ellesmere supports the campaign. - Credit: Sarah Lucy brown

“We can’t just have this cultural wasteland,” he added. “People want to go out and see the music and do different things.”

Leader of Ipswich Borough Council David Ellesmere said he was fully supportive of SYLP’s campaign.

He said: “There is a vibrant arts scene in Ipswich but we know that young people in particular feel that it doesn’t cater to their needs.

“If we can use the energy and enthusiasm of Young Labour to show there’s a market for it then hopefully we can use that as a catalyst to get such a venue going.”

St Clement's Church, which is to become Ipswich Arts Centre.

St Clement's Church, which is to become Ipswich Arts Centre.

Mr Ellesmere said he had met with some of the SYLP members and suggested they should get Grapevine, an entertainment guide for East Anglia, distributed in sixth forms to let students know about the gigs that already take place in the region.

He said the council was also helping Mr Kerridge to find a new space.

There is currently a project under way to transform the redundant St Clement’s Church in Star Lane into Ipswich Arts Centre, which will feature a medium-size venue for bands to play.

One of the managing directors, Simon Hallsworth, said the centre was due to open this summer for some events, but more funding was needed to finish the final works on the church so it can run all-year-round.

The University of Suffolk has reported increasing application numbers

The University of Suffolk has reported increasing application numbers - Credit: Archant

Richard Lister, vice-chancellor at UoS, said as the university didn’t have a “closed campus”, its students were able to benefit from Suffolk’s “rich cultural offering”, such as Spill festival and DanceEast.

He added: “There is of course room for improvement and we support those looking to add to the diversity of the county by offering more cultural spaces, indeed many of our staff have been actively involved in the creation of St Clement’s Arts Centre.”

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