More than 2,500 music fans sign petition in support of The Waterfront in Norwich

Paul Weller performs at The Waterfront.

Paul Weller performs at The Waterfront.

More than 2,500 music fans have signed a petition calling for people to support Norwich music venue The Waterfront, after managers revealed a “significant decline” in trade.

The Norwich music venue is managed by the independent charity the Union of UEA Students, which is in the midst of a job-cutting restructuring.

The union is funded through a university grant of almost £500,000, and income from The Waterfront and its student services company.

But the union has posted what it described as “significant deficits for some years” and has started reorganising its staffing structure.

In relation to The Waterfront, Jim Dickinson, chief executive of the Union of UEA Students, said it only made a £14,000 profit last year and had seen “a significant decline in trade this year.”

He said changes needed to be made to “strengthen The Waterfront’s future prospects through more effective control of costs”.

Following our story about that, James Vivian, bassist with city-based alternative/rock band Enigma set up an on-line petition calling for people to sign to promote, support and show how the King Street venue means to Norwich.

The petition was only set up on Thursday, but more than 1,800 people have already signed it and left comments about what The Waterfront means to them.

Mr Vivian said: “It was intended just to raise a bit of awareness and I thought about 10 people would sign it, but it seems to have gone viral. Everyone was retweeting it.

“Being in a band myself, which has headlined and supported bands at The Waterfront, I know what that place means to people. I’m a regular there and have met so many people just from going to The Waterfront.

“It’s been really nice to see that it has struck a chord with so many people, with all the messages which have been left on the petition website.”

One of them was musician Howard Turner, from Melton Constable, who was involved in the Norwich Venue Campaign in the 1980s which led to The Waterfront opening.

He wrote: “I didn’t spend so much time and effort in the ‘80s helping create this, the first proper Norwich city venue for live music, for it to die a slow death! In these times of a resurgence of live music, The Waterfront is more important than ever.”

• You can view and sign the petition here.

Here’s what some of those who have signed the petition said about The Waterfront:

Kate Cox, from Norwich: “It’s a national heritage site...Nirvana played here in 1990 for goodness sake!”

Simon Webster, from Thursford: “So many unforgettable nights at the Waterfront: as a punter (opening night with 808 State in 1990 to name just one); to DJing (playing in 1992 on the same night as Prodigy, Orbital, The Shamen and Njoi is a massive highlight); and now as a promoter (Reunion with Jilted Generation and Slipmatt last year was a fantastic night). Long may this fantastic venue continue!”

Emma Lingwood, from Norwich: “The Waterfront is the only place I even consider for a night out. There is nowhere else like it and [it] would be greatly missed if it closed.”

Alison Bilyard, from Norwich: “It’s the basis of my student life. Seen so many awesome bands here, both as a student as still as an adult. Such a massive selection of bands and events and always such a FAB atmosphere. I remember seeing Paul Weller about twenty years ago and everyone in front of me letting me past (as I’m a shortie) until I was right at the front looking up at the great man!”

Jasmin Smith, from North Walsham: “This is my childhood, my gigs are important to me and The Waterfront gave them to me, most of my memories are here.”

• What do you think of The Waterfront? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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