The Phoenix Cultural Centre and Fiery Bird live music venue shrugged off its problems with business rates demands to concentrate on what it does best: bringing together the community.

At the opening weekend of its new home on Goldsworth Road, the Phoenix Centre had assembled a programme for all tastes.

“We had an amazing weekend,” said Elaine McGinty, founder and CEO of Phoneix Cultural Centre. 

“So many people came along, took part and enjoyed themselves across all the generations, and we had volunteers of all ages too. 

“The place was buzzing with live music in the Fiery Bird venue and on the Phoenix Cultural Centre side we had a pop-up record store from DigIn Records, stalls and workshops from [environment group] WEAct, Andy’s Man Club, Man In The Moon Theatre, face-painting from Michelle Kerslake and Soroptimists.

“All the groups providing services donated their money to the Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC. 

“In the Anam Cara cafe area we had spoken-word performances from members of Woking’s Write Out Loud run by Rodney Wood and feature artists who perform a wide range of festivals and gigs around the country.

“In the Fiery Bird venue, bands who played had a special connection to the venue’s journey, either being part of building it over the years, having supported us from the beginning, or having met at one of our venues and formed from there. Founder member of The Jam Steve Brookes played, reminiscing about their first gigs at Michael’s which was across the road from this venue. 

“During the gigs our tech team were using it as an opportunity to train young people and SEN adults on how to use the sound and lighting desk so they could get experience in a professional set-up.

“On the first floor we had a serene space with a meditation labyrinth and a gong bath offered by The Soul Path on the Sunday, and on the Saturday Eden People provided a lovely space to relax.

“BBC Surrey and Radio Woking came down and covered it all. 

“We are incredibly proud of our fantastic volunteer team who pulled this off. They turned an office block into a vibrant community space and professional grassroots live music venue with a full programme of events in three weeks. 

“The time and belief they put into this over the years has been incredible to witness and we have had some lovely new volunteers join us on this venue too. It is also testament to the organisations, bands, artists and poets who performed at short notice who were so supportive of it all.

“Nicky Weller and Shaney Talbot from The Jam Exhibition served teas to the public on the Sunday and Rick Buckler popped down to lend support just as he did in our first little shop ten years ago. 

“Massive thanks to owners Eco World who gifted the building, seating for children to use and invested £100,000 to make it safe for the community to enjoy. 

“We have some fantastic gigs coming up and we have space for the community to shape their own venue by getting involved. 

“For as long as we can, we will build on this and keep going.”