THE Fiery Bird music venue has been given a permanent home in the former Bed Bar premises in Woking town centre.

The Phoenix Cultural Centre, that runs the Fiery Bird offering live performances by local bands and wider community arts projects, is seeking around £1.3 million in funding to refurbish the site.

Elaine McGinty, the Phoenix chairman, said she hoped The Fiery Bird would open in the Church Path building in September next year, when its lease on its current site will end.

The Fiery Bird has been operating on borrowed time with the building housing its current venue next to the HG Well centre due for demolition as part of the town centre developments.

Elaine told the News & Mail that the council told her last week that the Church Path site would be available free of rent, subject to committee approval.

She said the draft plans for the new venue include a 300-capacity live music area and another space for up to 120 people offering a range of activities and events.

“It’s a bit unreal – the search for a permanent space has been going on for 10 years,” Elaine said.

The Phoenix Cultural Centre is applying for around £1.3 million from the Surrey County Council Community Fund and is asking its supporters to back the campaign.

Elaine wrote on the group’s Facebook page: “We have substantial work to do to make it accessible to all of the community, including wheelchair lifts to both floors, accessible toilets and fully accessible artist changing and shower facilities to remove barriers to performing and make it open to all.

“We have all the music and sound equipment to move there from our current Fiery Bird venue. We want to continue and grow our partnerships supporting SEN adults, offer more workshops, more creative industry training and obviously more gigs in the diary for all ages and levels from bands starting out to touring artists.”

She told the News & Mail that when the new venue is up and running, there will be a community share offer so that the not-for-profit asset can be owned by the people of Woking.

Elaine said the new site means the Fiery Bird can contribute to the life and business of Woking, with those using the venue making use of neighbouring restaurants and shops.

“Having a permanent venue means we can expand what we’ve always done and make it a community arts centre for everyone.”

Bed Bar closed in December 2017 after 11 years.

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