Thousands sign petition to save The Electric cinema in Birmingham - and designate Station Street a civic asset

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A petition has been launched to designate Station Street in Birmingham a historic, cultural and civic asset - and save The Electric cinema from being bulldozed

There has been outrage and upset over the closure of The Electric cinema on Station Street in Birmingham city centre.

The 115 year-old venue is Britain's oldest working cinema, serving audiences since 1909. It sits on the same street as The Crown pub where Black Sabbath performed their first gig. And it’s not just the closure of The Electric which has devastated proud locals, the historic street is now at risk of being bulldozed to make way for a 50 floor tower.

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Darren John has launched a petition on change.org to protect the area. He wants to designate Station street as a historic, cultural and civic asset. As of this afternoon (Saturday, March 2) more than 10,000 people have signed the petition which you can find here: Designate Birmignham’s Station Street a Historic, Cultural and Civic Asset.

Darren has called on West Midlands Mayor Andy Street to help saying: “More than just The Electric; Station St needs to be designated a site of Civic pride, Cultural value and Historic asset by the West Midland Mayor and Birmingham's civic leadership and members of Parliament. Any applicable listings for historical, architectural and cultural importance should be pursued in order to ensure no demolition of a vibrant and clearly viable street takes place.”

The Electric cinema on Station Street in BirminghamThe Electric cinema on Station Street in Birmingham
The Electric cinema on Station Street in Birmingham | SWNS

What else is on Station Street in Birmingham? Why should it be designated as a cultural asset?

Darren points out that The Electric and The Crown are at risk of demolition alongside several successful hospitality businesses. The street is also home to another historic gem - The Old Rep, which is Grade II listed and Britain's oldest rep theatre. But it is not currently at risk from development plans.

There were plans to reopen The Crown as a live music venue and digital centre with Birmingham Open Media announced last year, but these failed. The closure of The Electric comes as Birmingham City Council is set to implement a raft of savings to counter its effective bankruptcy and save £300 million over two years. Among the devastating cuts are plans to axe grants to cultural organisations by 100%.

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Darren added: “Station Street should be pedestrianised and turned into Birmingham's small venues cultural offer and the beating heart of a city proud of its heritage, cutting edge in its arts outlook and bold in its vision. Complemented by the recent John Bright Street regeneration.

“Birmingham has been down this path before. Destroying historic and beautiful architecture of nationally cultural significance only to regret it shortly after. Do not repeat the mistakes of the past. Birmingham needs apartments but there are huge supplies of land in Birmingham city centre more suitable than this.  A city with no culture or history is a just a block of flats and a train station taking people elsewhere in the long run.” 

Has Historic England heritage listed statusHas Historic England heritage listed status
Has Historic England heritage listed status | Google Maps

What has West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said about calls to Station Street from the bulldozers?

Andy Street has responded to the outcry over The Electric alongside West Midlands Night Time Economy Advisor Alex Claridge saying: “Clearly any potential loss of such an iconic heritage building is deeply concerning, and so we have asked the WMCA to urgently investigate the factors and any possible interventions.

"We know this feeds into wider concerns about the future of Station Street, which is why we have already written to Government to ask for The Crown to become a listed building. Clearly if we are successful in that application then that has implications ofr any proposed development. But Station Street is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people’s grave concerns about the future of our arts and cultural scene.

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"Culture is essential to the lifeblood of the WEst Midlands That is why the news that BirminghamCity Council will be cutting 100% of their grants to cultural organisations is so concerning. But rest assured we have no intention of standing by and seeing the regions' cultural sector decline. We hope to share more concrete news on our actions soon and we fully intend to put money where our mouths are.”  

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