Clitheroe's Grand is just that, truly grand
It seems the inventive people of North West England, Lancashire in particular, are an imaginative lot. Most of the defunct small provincial cinemas in this region have spent the last forty years slowly decaying as bingo loses popularity to other modern media forms of gambling. But then came Clitheroe, a small but architecturally intact twelve hundred seat cinema converted by a local business man into a community music project. Quietly ambitious it sought to provide some focus for the young people of a rather neglected post-industrial town. Following from that, what's just been done to The Grand in Clitheroe also provides focus for young people, but the comparisons end there, for this is an altogether more ambitious project; one that looks set to satisfy more than the needs of entertaining youth.
John Lancaster is a successful businessman; he too saw the need for a live music venue, one that didn't require a seventy mile round trip into Manchester. But that distance from a city scale hub also made him realise it needed to be more than a stand-alone venue, "it would need all the infrastructure around it that can sustain music in a provincial location; it needed to succour and encourage local talent". And infrastructure is exactly what he's created. The Grand operates not only as a live concert venue with all the sound, lighting and video technology required, it is also home to a superbly fitted recording facility with two live room studios, and an AV department with live, record, mix and media sections. Lancaster you will gather sees the bigger picture, which is probably what accounts for his success in the business world. He is also a man of principals; Christian principals as it happen, though he is at pains to emphasise, "this is a facility for the whole community, funded and supported by the whole community."
It's measure of that community that so much funding has been raised. Lancaster engaged the services of Wigwam Acoustics to consult and supply all the Sound, lighting and video, in the concert hall a comprehensive installation of d&b audiotechnik loudspeakers comprising Q1s and Q subwoofers for main PA, with E3s for front fill and under balcony delays. "The Q-Series system we've installed has the power, headroom, and purity of sound to flatter any style of performance," said Wigwam's project manager Phil Goldsworthy. "When there's a need for something on the heavy side we have also provided B2 subwoofers for infrabass. That is no mere indulgence, having the B2s configured to provide those really low frequencies means that used carefully, they can enhance the subtle sonorous tones of a double bass as well as a kick drum." Any style of music it seems is applicable at Clitheroe. As well as a Digidesign Profile mix desk Wigwam provided a comprehensive monitor system, d&b M4 wedges with Shure UHF-R radio mics. "For the studio we put in an SSL900+ console," said Goldsworthy, "with Digidesign Pro Tools HD3. With the addition of a digi' switch, resident house engineer Simon Stride can take outputs from the Profile, or the studio's 192's, into the Pro tools system."
Lancaster has engaged the services of Oasis UK to manage the day-to-day operation of The Grand. Oasis aims to promote Christian values but in a non-confrontational manner. "This facility works inwards and out;" explained Wigwam Director Mick Spratt. "The aim is to go out into the schools community and support and encourage young people in music and dance, and production. Demonstrations of recording, how to approach a live gig, what's available and how to use it: that sort of thing."