The Smokehouse Turns Six

by | Oct 13, 2022 | Music

This September 2022, after a hell of a journey, The Smokehouse in Ipswich celebrated turning six years old.

After a grant from the BIFFA Award and support from the local Labour councillors, the dedicated live music venue was built within South Street Studios and opened in 2016. Six years later, with hundreds of diverse artists coming through the doors, The Smokehouse has become a local hub for creatives. Through their not-for-profit CIC, Out Loud Music, the venue has become home to an array of music and media workshops during the daytime for young people and adults with additional needs, mental health issues and/or from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Image © Rue Hackett

Over the years there’s been plenty of exciting changes, with the in-house promotions team ‘The Smokehouse Presents’ kicking off in 2018, the launch of the festival Sound City Ipswich, as well as taking on The Baths and St Stephen’s Church as music venues. It has brought national and international musicians to Ipswich, who have been championed by the likes of BBC 6 Music and played at many festivals, including Glastonbury. The long list of artists was kicked off by This Is The Kit in 2018, and includes The Orielles, Girls Of The Internet, Penelope Isles, Bessie Turner, Caroline, Working Mens Club, Yard Act and many more.

A sense of excitement has been sparked in Ipswich’s music scene with the introduction of the multi-venue festival and repurposing the town’s smallest remaining medieval church. St Stephen’s Church will be closing towards the end of 2022 and will undergo refurbishments after securing vital funding of £300k. The installation of new fire exits will take the venue’s capacity from 110 to 225, while new toilets and a cafe-bar will be built, as well as sound proofing infrastructure and much more.

When the venue isn’t filled with lights and music it will be a fully equipped and furnished café during the daytime and a communal space for people to work from; as well as continuing to home independently run HEX Record Shop, owned by the Smokehouse’s our programmer Marcus Neal.

After begrudgingly closing the doors for eighteen months during the peak of Covid-19, The Smokhouse comeback since reopening has been bigger and stronger than ever. Multiple nights a week there are DIY gigs from third party promoters, from a huge range of genres and backgrounds. The daytime sees a multitude of brilliant projects and workshops for the community, and frequent Smokehouse Presents gigs scatter the annual calendar and attract a wide audience of music lovers from across the region.

Since 2016 costs have been kept to a minimum, with any money made going straight back into maintaining the venue and staffing costs. Due to the cost of living, inflation and soaring overhead costs The Smokehouse will be increasing their hire fee from £50 to £90. As a growing organisation they need to make sure their costs and staffing wages are covered. A lower community price will still be offered out, alongside an optional ‘donation fee’.  (Get in touch with The Smokehouse for details)

The Smokehouse want to thank everyone who has been a part of the journey so far – the staff, the bands, the volunteers, the punters, the promoters – they are proud of their DIY sensibility and getting to work with so many brilliant people who make The Smokehouse what it is.

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