- August 5, 2021
Brighton Pride has for two years been on hold because of the global pandemic, or so it would seem. But behind the scenes the team, led as ever by Paul Kemp, have been very hard at work. With no parade and no festival in the park they have created a season of queer events of real quality and at the heart of that a new venue The Ironworks.
Brighton has for many years been a cultural hub, a popular home for actors and certainly home to a vast array of queer artists, writers and performers. So creating a bespoke venue for LGBTQ+ arts must be seen as timely and appropriate.
Ironworks occupies a town centre unit that was previously industrial. But as that quarter of the city is being regenerated, and dare I say gentrified, conversion from industry to arts and entertainment follows a global trend to repurpose spaces as industry moves out.
It also provides blank canvases for this kind of development and Brighton Pride have worked wonders with that blank canvas. The space is comfortable, flexible and packed with state-of-the-art technology, and at the Pride Gala we were treated to some of those attributes as well as a camp confection of queer entertainment. I particularly enjoyed Billie Golds powerful voice, the off the wall and joyous humour of Lorraine Bowen and the irresistible sauce of drag prince Alfie Ordinary.
In addition to the theatre facilities it is also worth saying that the bar and exhibition space is very well appointed and very well managed. Drinks sensibly priced, unlike so many theatres, and the service fast and efficient. Ordering and paying online worked well and one can see that this could well continue when we see an end to the pandemic.
Looking forward the team have already put in place an exciting programme of events, from interviews with stars like Biggins to theatre, comedy and music acts. At the gala launch it was great to see an audience not only made up from the LGBTQ+ population but also plenty of allies and it was easy to see that whilst being a queer venue the appeal would certainly have a far wider reach, true equalities at work.
In the spirit of “watch this space”this is certainly a space to watch!
The Old Ironworks
Unit 2, 30 Cheapside