What on earth is EartH?

If you regularly frequent the fringes of the Dalston-Stoke Newington border you’ll know that it’s constantly chucking out something new. New shops, new cafes, new bars, new creative hubs. But the real intrigue comes from the, more often than not, perfectly formed queue awaiting entry to a subtle, rather inconspicuous door with EartH stamped above it.

Not giving much away, is it?

 

Well, contrary to its exterior, this is a place of hidden historical wonder with great things going on already and even greater things to come.

What’s the story?

In the mid 20th Century, the A10 looked pretty different. There were 6 cinemas dotted along the roadside from Dalston up to Stamford Hill. The Coliseum Cinema, the Regent, the Stamford Hill Cinema, Odeon Dalston, the Rio (the only functioning cinema left today) and the the big brother to them all; the Savoy cinema.

The Rio Cinema as we know it today

Designed by William Riddell Glen in 1936, the Savoy was wonderfully equipped with art deco features and had roughly 2,500 people in and out of its doors on a daily basis. A cultural and social hub with a bar to accompany the auditorium.

The Savoy’s main auditorium in its heyday

The site of EartH has always been exclusively cinematic in its purpose: the Savoy from 1936 (part of ABC) and then the independently run Ace Cinema in the very early 80’s. Finally the time came for this glorious place to play its last screening and close its final curtain in 1984.

And now?

Since the mid-nineties, these history holding doors have barely been opened. So it was no real surprise that the once stunning art deco auditorium unveiled a somewhat dilapidated sight after so long:

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Not quite withstanding its former glory, yet. Image by Luke Hayes

But the doors have opened to something more all encompassing than a one screen cinema. With a concert hall, theatre, bar and cafe, the brains behind Village Underground venue in Shoreditch are immensely proud to be transforming this forgotten, secret space into the new arts centre of Hackney. Makes a lot more sense when you know that EartH stands for ‘Evolutionary Arts Hackney’.

With over 400 letters of support from the community when faced with planning, the Village Underground guys are clearly providing the area with something special.

And in the future?

Yes there have been some gigs there already – that’s great. They’re bringing a whole spectrum of performance to the stage such as cabaret, poetry, theatre – that’s wonderful. But what’s even better is the long term idea of making the space educational, too. Bring on the plan to engage young people in Hackney with the Arts. Absolutely do provide the community with EartH music studios. Definitely have sound, lighting, music and set design programmes for those willing to learn to actually get the chance to. Now that’s the winning ticket.

A new lease of life filling the auditorium. As it should be. Image by @wfdmedia

So when you next walk past EartH, see what’s happening within their stunning Wilton’s Music Hall-esque walls because the whole borough have got their fingers and toes crossed that this is a venue that’s here to stay. So long as you can find the entrance.