The Phoenix Cultural Centre

A member of the Surrey and Woking communities

About The Phoenix Cultural Centre

A community project bringing live music and other cultural events to Woking. The Phoenix Cultural Centre is a social enterprise, working towards creating a welcoming and inclusive space where people from all backgrounds can enjoy and participate in music events and which supports other community groups working in Woking.

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Latest posts

The 'Save our venues' T-shirt!

Live music, arts, community and cultural venues connect people, support people to do what they enjoy, and create spaces where people can express themselves. Unfortunately, these spaces may be among the last to re-open after the coronavirus lockdown and there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the future.

We really appreciate all the support and shares of our crowdfunder webpage, which is part of the Music Venues Trust national 'Save our venues' campaign.

The Trust has now designed an official 'Save our venues' T-shirt, which is available as a reward on our crowdfunder page. That means, if you donate £20 to the page, you can choose to receive a T-shirt. Music Venues Trust is covering all the costs, including postage, so the Fiery Bird receives the whole £20 donation.

Here's the link to the reward page – get yourself kitted out and share it with all your friends!

Music Venues Trust launch 'Save Our Venues' campaign and crowdfunder

Join our volunteers (pictured here) in supporting the #SaveOurVenues campaign from the Music Venues Trust, launched this week. People around the country are being asked to help save their local grassroots music venue.

If you know any artists willing to put on a short gig directing people to donate to the crowdfunder please let them know about it and nominate Fiery Bird!

You can find out more on the Save Our Venues website and you can also go straight to the Fiery Bird crowdfunder page if you would like to make a donation.

New board member: Anita Ho

Anita Ho has lived in the UK for the last 50 years. She attended South East London comprehensive school and went onto study electrical and electronics engineering at Kingston Polytechnic. Anita spent the next 30 years working in the electronics industry until she retired in 2010.

Since then she took her passion for Tai chi from a hobby to now teaching several classes in Surrey. These include teaching disabled people and others with various health conditions. She is a trustee of Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum (SMEF)and the Chinese Association of Woking (CAW).

Anita's other passion is to take ethnic minority culture, art and performance into the community. For the past 15 years, she has organised and delivered many Chinese cultural performances and educational programmes to the public, so Anita is very experienced in the area of art in society.

New board member: Suzanne Akram

Suzanne Akram has worked in Surrey setting up and leading Surrey Minority Ethnic Forum since 2009. She has worked in both generic and specialist infrastructure organisations in London and has a passion for social justice and women’s issues.

Suzanne trained as a potter and has an MA in Arts Policy and Management; she believes that music and arts can be powerful tools to bring people together. The energy and drive of the people at Phoenix have always impressed her, she looks forward to working with the group and encouraging people of all backgrounds to come together to celebrate their culture.

New board member: Greta Hughson

Greta Hughson lives in Horsell and has long been a supporter of the Phoenix project. She has worked in the voluntary sector for more than 15 years, often with charities focused on health and social justice, and most recently as a writer and editor.

Greta completed an MSc in sustainable food and natural resources in 2019 and is excited about how music and the arts can inspire action to protect the environment and support communities to make positive changes.

New board member: Justin Coll

Justin brings to our board a wealth of experience from the local arts scene. He used to be festival co-ordinator for the award-winning family festival, Guilfest, running the most diverse number of stages from local music to national heroes, from comedy to the theatre. He also managed press and was the online community manager for the social media.

He set up and ran the Palace in Aldershot as a live music venue and helped the Nepalese community open their community venue, the Empire, in Aldershot.

Justin now runs Woking’s community radio station – Radio Woking, and the Woking Planetarium, from the Winston Churchill School where he runs the IT systems at the school. He also chairs the Aldershot Civic Society, where he lives with his wife and son and runs the main stage at Aldershot’s Picnic and Pop Festival.

Born in Woking, Justin is very excited to be involved with and help the Phoenix Cultural Centre & Fiery Bird in its journey onwards, and looks forward to the many amazing things this venue can be in the future.

New board member: Andy Edmeads

Andy Edmeads was our first-ever volunteer, helping us when the Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC was growing from us putting on gigs for charity to supporting original music in Woking. Andy has been a Woking resident all his life, having grown up in Old Woking and now living in Brookwood.

He started his professional life as an actor aged 13 and worked in theatre, voice and film, later training at the University of Exeter. He made his professional acting debut in Peter Pan at the New Victoria Theatre in Woking in 1998 with Russ Abbott and Kellie Bright and has also worked with Hugh Laurie, Peter Capaldi and Benedict Cumberbatch on ITV’s Fortysomething. Andy has lent his voice to numerous radio and TV commercials and can be heard on the EA Games release Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

Since 2016, he has been Venue Manager of Camberley Theatre in Surrey Heath where he programmes their extensive events schedule, produces the annual pantomime and organises off-site events such as Frimley Lodge Live and the Surrey Heath Show. Later this year, the theatre will launch Squish - a free, two-day family theatre festival.

He presents Radio Woking Breakfast show on Friday mornings and in his spare time enjoys vinyl shopping, spending time with family and friends and stand up comedy.

Andy is passionate about the arts and the power it has to improve lives and is a regular attendee at gigs and festivals.

He is very much looking forward to supporting the Phoenix Cultural Centre CIC & Fiery Bird venue and seeing them go from strength to strength in his hometown.

Statement from our founders on the closure of the Fiery Bird venue and COVID-19

Dear all,

Given the Government's current advice on preventing the spread of coronavirus, we are writing to let you know that the Fiery Bird is currently closed. Bookings and gigs are cancelled at least until the end of April.

This decision is important for the safety of our customers and volunteers, particularly those, including our co-founder Joe, who have underlying health conditions.

You may be aware that we also have contracts for events run by other people. These are a way of finding musicians paid work and they are also an important source of income for us, supporting our community work. These contracts have all been cancelled for this year. This leaves us in a very vulnerable position.

Obviously, this is a difficult and sad situation all round. There are several factors we need to consider which cause us issues and where we can demonstrate the strengths and benefits a social project like ours can bring to the community in such vulnerable times.

Even if our venue is closed, we have so much work to do behind the scenes for the future of the project, and this work can continue. We can use this time to really see this stage through, to help embed a community venue and grassroots arts in our community. Our team’s efforts to get us where we are mustn’t be lost and it’s important to keep the team involved and working together. We want to welcome new members virtually as much as we can, not just to keep the project going but also to be there for each other and our community through this difficult time.

We ask if people have time or resources available, to consider if they can support us. However, we are very aware that people have worries and we want to know how we can support you too.

As well as a live music venue, Phoenix Centre/Fiery Bird has always been a place where people who otherwise would not go out can be welcome. There may be people who are very isolated now and need connection. Suggestions welcome on how we can encourage people to use all arts and creativity to find solace and connection. We have members and volunteers with expertise in so many areas, who might be able to help people and shape what we can do to support our community and each other through this. Many of our musician friends are live-streaming performances, so we don’t necessarily see a gap that we need to fill there, but there may be other ways we can get people together, perhaps through sharing music, chatting or other things in a virtual group.

Community-led businesses are at the heart of the places they serve and can respond quickly and compassionately to the needs of people where they are based. When this blows over, we will be able to be part of building our community back up in resilience and hope. We welcome people to help us do this, based on our core principles and values of being a community driven, equality and ethics based, welcoming project.

Over the next few days and weeks, as more information becomes available, we will be working towards this bright future and hope that you will be aware that your time, compassion, skills and intelligence is much valued to make that happen. Joe is still working full time because he has vulnerable clients as well as working on this and I am working to try to get our future secured and some major funding in place so we welcome ideas with our purpose embedded in them that people are prepared to drive forward.

This project has seen adversity many times in its ten-year history. It was built on adversity and always comes out stronger. We know that we can survive this, with even more resolve to be a place where everyone can express themselves. Bear with us, we are working as hard as we can in the background, but whatever happens, keep your spirits high and reach out if you need help.

Take care of yourselves, you are very, very valued

Best wishes,

Elaine & Joe

The Great NHS Heist

An information event on 20th February. This new documentary from Dr Bob Gill is a shocking exposé of the privatisation of our health service. With testimony from health experts, ex-cabinet members, economists, and clinicians, this film tells a story of betrayal. This event is a wake-up call, is unmissable, and is a call to action!

£3 on the door.
20 Feb 2020 at 7:30pm
until 20 Feb 2020 at 10:00pm
Fiery Bird Live Music Venue
Church Street East
GU21 6HJ

Social leadership

Our CEO Elaine has been selected to be part of the Clore Social Leadership Experienced Leaders Programme 2020.

Only 34 social leaders are selected from across the UK to take part in an in-depth programme to increase their skills to make lasting social change. Go Elaine!