Hockney joins battle to save derelict cinema
Bradford-born artist backs campaign to preserve 'splendid' Art Deco building in his home town
In the long list of architectural treasures gracing Britain's towns and cities, Bradford Odeon, a derelict Art Deco cinema, is not one that immediately springs to mind. But plans to demolish the building that once played host to The Beatles and the Rolling Stones have sparked an angry campaign led by prominent artists and performers, including David Hockney, Michael Palin, Jenny Agutter, Alan Bennett and Barbara Windsor.
Bradford-born Hockney, who has maintained strong connections to the West Yorkshire city, has condemned proposals by developers to tear down the 1930s building and replace it with a glass-fronted office and shopping complex.
In a message to the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (Borg), the artist said: "They should not pull anything more down in Bradford, especially that splendid building which could be used for many imaginative things."
Ironically, the subtitle to one of Hockney's paintings, "One Landscape, Many Views", has been adopted as the slogan for Bradford's regeneration plans.
The Homes and Communities Agency, which has responsibility for the building, says it is bound by a legal agreement made between the quango's predecessor, Yorkshire Forward, and developers to build the new shops and office complex.
Other campaigners against demolition include George Clarke, who restores architectural treasures in his Channel 4 programme Restoration Man and who was last month appointed David Cameron's adviser on empty homes.
Mr Clarke said: "Historically, we have seen the lives of some iconic buildings cut short and then lived to regret it. There have also been success stories. Imagine, for example, if Sir John Betjeman hadn't campaigned to save St Pancras. What a tragedy that would have been.
"I feel that losing this building, although smaller and more humble, would prove to be a similar loss not only for the people of Bradford but also the nation as a whole."
The actress Jenny Agutter said: "The Odeon is the epitome of British cinema at its greatest. It is a symbol of possibility and it would be a real loss if that was taken away."
The proposed demolition also clashes with Bradford's Unesco status as a City of Film, say campaigners.
The architect Jonathan Foyle, chief executive of World Monuments Fund Britain, said: "The people of Bradford seem fiercely and rightly proud of their forefathers' contributions to the city's historic architecture. Bradford should now be expected to follow a policy for preservation on behalf of its citizens, and reject the wastage of further demolition."
Among the musical giants to have played at the Bradford Odeon are the Rolling Stones, Tom Jones and The Beatles. After a performance in 1964, John Lennon autographed the dressing-room wall. The cinema closed in 2000 and its future has been the subject of bitter wrangling since.
During 2007, nearly 1,000 people opposed to the plans encircled the perimeter of the building in a show of mass public support. The demonstration – Hug the Odeon – was organised by the campaign group Borg.
It stepped up its efforts to save the cinema in March after the building was shrouded in plastic sheeting. Last month, it gathered 1,000 signatures to use the building as a northern arts centre and music venue dedicated to the memory of the late DJ John Peel.
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Marijuana use by teenagers does not result in a lower IQ or worse exam results, study finds
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Australian café owner sparks debate after saying 'No' to having unruly children on premises
- 5 NHS staff banned from drinking tea or coffee on the job because it looks like they're not working hard enough
MOBO Awards 2014: Jess Glynne hits back at 'ridiculous' criticism of nominated white artists
American Horror Story season 4, Fox - review: Silly, sensational and sensitive
The Apprentice 2014: Nurun Ahmed and Lindsay Booth fired in double elimination
MOBO Awards 2014: Sam Smith sweeps the board with four gongs
The Apprentice, episode 3 - review: Lord Sugar hacks away at the deadwood with double elimination
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Russell Brand threatened with arrest after filming outside Fox News headquarters