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Iconic Venue The Box Gets Bulldozed Down - What now for Crewe's music scene?

This week, Crewe musicians and music fans have watched the iconic venue being bulldozed down to make way for a multi-story car park.  The Box closed its doors last year, but the machines moved in this week to knock down the walls that once hosted many local bands.
Image by Martin Rivers, local Crewe musician
The demise of the venue is representative of what is happening all over the UK at the moment.  Gentrification is happening everywhere.  Places that were once at the heart of the rock, punk and alternative subcultures are being taking over by big businesses and corporate greed.
And this isn't the first time that Crewe has had to mourn the loss of an iconic venue.  The Limelight also used to be a stomping ground for the alternative scene in this northern industrial town, but it now stands, an empty shell. Its walls and windows rotting under the gaze of potential developers: Will it be a block of flats?  A shopping precinct? or just another building that decays around us?  A shadow of its former glory.
They are taking from us a central location where music fans and musicians, can come together and build a creative community

The Box stood across from Crewe's main train station and with the potential of the HS2 development, it was an easy target for any developers with pound signs ingrained into their cornea.  It was reported by local newspaper The Crewe and Nantwich Guardian, that plans for development in the area around the station had been going on since 2012 and already we have seen that the adjoining hotel to the site where The Box once stood is already up for sale for a nice sum of £2.5million.  Undoubtedly, there has been anger among the local music community and many wonder where to go next; just how far the town is going to change; and what cost to the community that change will bring.
It could be argued that these developers just don't realise that they are taking away a central location where music fans and musicians, can come together and build a creative community.  The 'non-places' as Marc Auge called them, have no soul.  There cannot be a natural development of a community spirit in a Starbucks, a multistory car park or a train station bar.  Venues like The Box, have grown organically.  Someone has put their soul and passion into creating that space and making it accessible for the music community.  They have worked hours that they probably haven't been paid for with a sole vision to provide a space where new music, new bands and new talent can express themselves and learn about performance and art.  A space where subculture and counterculture ideas can be shared.  Where inspiration can be found and where critical analysis of our society can take place.  If nothing more, a space where creative souls can meet and feel a part of something, feel connected.  Over the years, The Box not only played host to a plethora of bands from the local area but also to top acts such as Catfish and The Bottlemen, Pulled Apart By Horses, The Holloways and Echobelly, plus many more.
But maybe, the 'powers-that-be' are afraid of these spaces growing organically with community and the arts being at the core of their ethos.  Maybe we are seeing the demise on such a wide scale because they are afraid that someone may decide not to conform to their established system.  Maybe they don't want us to think critically or create counter-culturally.  So where do we go from here?
My dream is to see Crewe being put back on the cultural map again.  We have such great links to the UK's major cities and could be a central point for gigs, studios, venues and a new wave of subculture creative revolution.  I know that others, who I am in regular contact with, share my view.  I don't want to sit back and just talk about the heyday of the 1990s when there were loads of interesting new bands playing three or four nights a week around the pubs:  The Stiltons, The Limelight, The Brunswick, The Royal, The Angel, etc, etc.
I think that Crewe musicians need to get talking.  They may have taken another one of our spaces, but they cannot bulldoze down our passions, creativity and community spirit.
Stephanie Burgess
Twitter: @marinaisred

Many thanks to Martin Rivers, local musician and member of Rivers and Kidd, for the image.
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