Some time ago I wrote a blog post about what might be the future of the Custard Factory, claiming that its capacity as a music venue had somewhat reached its terminal velocity. Every big night is full but you can’t expand financially until you expand physically.
- Time for the Custard Factory to fulfil its potential
The answer to the conundrum may be answered by the forthcoming Bodies Revealed exhibition and similar events. Bodies Revealed is open all day, six days a week and is expected to bring 6,500 people through the doors of Custard Factory’s Space 2. That is a consistent number that doing big club nights simply can’t compete with. In addition to that, every visitor will no doubt drop into ‘Yumm’ for their lunch, The Old Crown for a pint and do some shopping in the flea market or COW. The knock on effects for the local economy could be profound.
It also provides invaluable PR for the Custard Factory. A new breed of customer will be taken into the creative beehive and see what everyone gets so excited about. It could inspire bigger exhibitions or events to use the Custard Factory, in turn perpetuating more business to the complex and its neighboring amenities.
The Gallery, Old Library, Theatre and Factory Club could all benefit from the extra exposure and visitor footfall. The potential of the Custard Factory has been the talk of creative Birmingham for some time, maybe now it is the chance to fulfil it.
The future of the Custard Factory?
In the last month or so, The Custard Factory or more specifically Space 2 has hosted acts such as Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy, Fleet Foxes, Pendulum and Amanda Palmer , bascially world reknowned performers. There only lies one problem, Fleet Foxes and Pendulum aside, all the major acts are either past their prime(Sugarhill Gang, Public Enemy) or in a different guise to where they made their name (Amanda Palmer). A 1800 capacity venue like Space 2, put simply, will never be able to attract the chart topping acts simply because the venue can’t house the amount of people needed to cover the cost required to aquire such a band.
Maybe that’s not such a bad thing.
Sure the Custard Factory could never compete with the NIA or Carling in terms of footfall and therefore artist size but on the other hand it opens a market for alternative acts that are gaining more credibility and popularity due to the new downloading phenomenon. Smaller alternative acts that previously only has a small hardcore group of followers now attract wider audiences due to the internet giving them greater exposure and accessabilty. The Custard Factory and other independent venues offer the perfect stage for such acts and hold the neccessary kudos to attract bands such as the Fleet Foxes and others.
So where from here for a venue that is reaching its terminal velocity in terms of ability to attract artists that consistently fill up the venue. Does it host developing bands at the risk of poor ticket sales or does it aim to in greater bands past their peak, cashing in on the onslaught of newly reformed legends (Stone Roses, Blur etc)? Can Space 2 open out into the North Yard, or open Gibb Street into an open air venue? Does it move away from music hosting? Basically how can the Custard Factory continue to grow despite its physical limitations.
Answers on a postcard to the Big Cat offices.