Earth: Hackney Arts Centre unveils new name for state-of-the-art revamp of old Savoy Cinema

PUBLISHED: 10:19 21 August 2018 | UPDATED: 07:21 28 August 2018

The former Savoy and ABC cinema in Stoke Newington Road, which closed in 1984. Picture: Polly Hancock

The former Savoy and ABC cinema in Stoke Newington Road, which closed in 1984. Picture: Polly Hancock


The revamped Savoy Cinema in Stoke Newington will reopen next month as Earth – and a host of new shows have also been announced.

The circle of the former Savoy/ABC Cinema. Picture: Polly HancockThe circle of the former Savoy/ABC Cinema. Picture: Polly Hancock

A £3million project to renovate the derelict old picturehouse began last year when it was bought by the team behind Shoreditch arts hub The Village Underground, as revealed by the Gazette.

Director Auro Foxcroft and his team used Hackney Arts Centre as a work-in-progress name, but has now changed it to Evolutionary Arts Hackney, or Earth for short.

The venue will have three spaces – two venues and a restaurant/bar – and will host top international music acts, performance art, talks and debates, comedy and film.

Auro, who showed the Gazette around the venue earlier this year, said: “From the random chance discovery of this buried treasure in plain sight to uncovering secret rooms and repeatedly evicting thousands of wily pigeons, it’s been a bizarre ride.

Auro Foxcroft, founder and director of Village Underground, inside the former Savoy/ABC Cinema auditorium. Picture: Polly HancockAuro Foxcroft, founder and director of Village Underground, inside the former Savoy/ABC Cinema auditorium. Picture: Polly Hancock

“And in a way that’s going to continue, we’re starting to programme increasingly mixed art forms and genres, artists and perspectives.

“We want to fill the place with the kind of performances that make you think twice and hopefully leave with that feeling of inspiration, possibility and change.”

The first run of shows will begin with a performance by Ethio-jazz legend Mulatu Astatke and Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, while there will be Chicago horn jazz from the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and a set from Gilles Peterson.

An event named 5x15 will host poetry, talks and debates, while Kate Tempest will appear and Neil Gaiman and Lauren Laverene will also speak at Art Matters.

Pet Shop Boy Neil Tennant will be “in conversation”, there will be a special performance by Lianne La Havas, and hit comic James Acaster will also drop by.

The cinema opened as the Savoy in 1936 and was later named the ABC, the Konak and Ace. The last film to be shown at the venue was Scarface in 1984 and the cinema space remained largely untouched until renovation work began.

Pool bar Efes, which is in the old foyer to the theatre’s circle seating, will close and form part of the development, as will the Epic function room, which was the old stalls to the 2,500 capacity cinema. Epic has a false ceiling created at the bottom of the circle, splitting the old venue in half.

Earth will be the first live music venue in the UK to use L-ISA Hyperreal Sound technology from L-Acoustics.

And it has teamed up with Community Music – a Whitechapel charity working to support youngsters getting into music.

Based at the venue, the collaboration with work with hundreds of kids, particularly those who are socially excluded, providing routes into education and work.

A crowdfunding campaign launching next week will hope to raise £50,000 to transform the building’s basement into a modern education hub for the community project.

Earlier this year Village Underground was given £1.9m funding towards the project from Big Issue Invest, The Arts Impact Fund and Triodos Bank.

Donations can be made here and for the full autumn listings, click here.

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