Static Gallery breaks its silence

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Clinic perform for the first stage of the production line © Keith Ainsworth

A local gallery has re-opened its doors as a venue for live music after it was forced to cease its live events programme after a row with Liverpool City Council over noise levels.

In March 2012, Static Gallery became another Liverpool venue to cease hosting music events following a noise abatement notice.

When it came to light that their art space on Roscoe Lane was subject to scrutiny by the council’s planning enforcement division, it was revealed that the proprietors had no planning consent to run as a gallery, studio or a social space and was deemed as a ‘light industrial factory’.

This gave Static the impetuous to utilise the industrial space for a production line-themed live gig/installation in collaboration with Liverpool-based post-punk revival band, Clinic.

On the night they offered the people in attendance a journey through the assembly line of a factory. Recording Clinic’s world premiere of their new album ‘Free Reign’ through analogue tape machines, they offered consumers live recorded merchandise upon the conclusion of their performance.

Artistic director of the project, Sam Wiehl thinks the council perceives the art community as commercially dispensable and that stifling creative spaces will have adverse effects on the city culturally.

He explained to JMU Journalism how Static were able to host the live gig and installation: “The council’s point is because the original description of the building was listed as a factory and now it’s become a space for art, it’s not seen as being commercially important or viable.

“So we just said OK, we’ll turn the gallery into a factory for the night, let’s have a production line, producing something, a hardcore, hard-faced project.”

The factory installation was the brainchild of Paul Sullivan, the foreman at Static, who initially sparked discussions with the council’s planning department in attempt to resolve the issue.

Operatives record the performance on cassette tapes for stage two of the assembly line © Keith Ainsworth

He told JMU Journalism: “The projects that we seem to be doing are coming into conflict with the city. It’s not a case of defiance, it’s a case of this is what we do and we don’t think it’s outside of the law.

“However, our issue is that we think there should be a level playing field so the rules should be the same for everyone. My argument is the rules aren’t the same for everyone.”Ade Blackburn, the frontman from Clinic, thinks it’is important that venues such as Static remain open as live spaces for music

He told JMU Journalism: “This situation is not really presenting bands in a good way; I think you really need places with character like Static because they’re not too big, independent bands can play at them and still get an audience down.”

With new business rates being levied on over 30 independent businesses and creative spaces within the city, how else will Liverpool’s creative sectors react to the council’s plans?

About Joshua Nevett, JMU Journalism