Brighton theatre given drinks licence subject to conditions

A small theatre on Brighton seafront has been granted a drinks licence provided it sticks to a number of conditions.

The Electric Arcade, in Madeira Drive, is expected to operate as a theatre-led arts venue with at least 14 activities a week.

The venue, under the zip wire, can count public performances, rehearsals and group workshops towards the total.

Other licence conditions imposed by Brighton and Hove City Council include a ban on vertical drinking – the term used by licensing officials for standing and drinking.

The only exception would be if it was required as part of the artistic element of a ticketed show.

And the venue will not be allowed to have DJ-led performances in the house.

The operator, Otherplace Productions, set up the new venue in Daltons Bastion Downstairs, below the Brighton Zip, during the summer with a temporary alcohol licence.

It includes two 50-seat studio theatres and can be used as a cabaret bar style performance space.

Otherplace, which is known for hosting shows at the Warren during the Brighton Fringe, said: “During 2020 the premises has operated under a temporary licence and in what can only be described as a severely difficult operating environment.”

It aimed to create “a tariff-free arts networking space with a responsible food and beverage offering that will complement the core function as a small-scale entrepreneurial arts centre”.

Otherplace added that serving drinks to customers was a vital part of its business model.

Licensing officials from the council and Sussex Police had reservations about another licensed premises in the centre of Brighton.

They told a council licensing panel last month that they were concerned that a drinks licence without appropriate conditions might enable the venue to be run, effectively, as a pub.

Inside the Electric Arcade on Brighton seafront

The venue is in a busy part of Brighton and Hove where council policy restricts the granting of new pub licences.

In its decision, the licensing panel, made up of three councillors, said: “Non-alcohol led cultural and community activities are encouraged in our licensing policy.

“The application as currently presented does not have sufficient safeguards in terms of conditions given the challenging nature of the area.

“The panel has therefore decided to grant the application with all the conditions offered in the operating schedule and with the addition of some further conditions which we consider are necessary to promote the licensing objectives and emphasise the non-alcohol led character of the operation.”

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