The rebirth of an iconic music venue into a new global music platform
Historic, iconic theatre and live music venue KOKO will relaunch Spring 2022 after a state-of-the-art transformation and restoration, in partnership with SISTER
The new venture aims to deliver an unrivalled experience in live music and entertainment globally and will support and empower the next generation of artists and musicians
LONDON, 21 OCTOBER 2021. London’s iconic KOKO, a favourite of Prince, Kanye West, Amy Winehouse, Madonna and Dua Lipa, will relaunch in spring 2022 after £70m of investment, as a state-of-the-art live music venue spanning 50,000 square feet, with ambitions to deliver an unrivalled experience for live music fans and with high spec streaming capabilities integrated throughout. After three years of construction and restoration, overcoming challenges of a biblical nature - a blazing fire, colossal water damage and a global pandemic - Founder and CEO Olly Bengough has persevered with his ground-breaking vision to redefine live music and entertainment, with a mission to support and empower the next generation of musicians. The new venture is being launched in partnership with SISTER, the multi-award winning global content company behind productions such as Chernobyl and forthcoming titles such as This is Going to Hurt, with recent investments including Olivia Colman and Ed Sinclair’s production company South of the River Pictures and podcast studio Campside Media.
KOKO has always been at the forefront of broadcasting and the arts; originally a 19th century theatre when Charlie Chaplin first graced the stage (1909), later evolving into a broadcasting centre when it became the home of iconic productions such as Peter Sellers The Goon Show and Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which were transmitted live from the building during 30 years of BBC ownership (1945 -1975). Rolling Stones famously recorded ‘Live At Camden Theatre’ from the building in 1964, for BBC’s ‘Rhythm and Blues’ show.
KOKO has been transformed into a maze of beautifully designed, immersive spaces allowing artists visiting KOKO a dynamic new platform to take their creative freedom to the next level. With new high-spec broadcasting, recording and live streaming capabilities built into the very fabric of the Grade II listed theatre and its new four storey extension, musicians now have access to a truly one-of-a-kind physical space and media facility. Enabling them, not only to perform live but to co-produce, stream and distribute their music to a global audience with the newly formed KOKO Studio.
KOKO’s soon to be launched radio station will help to break new and emerging artists, whilst KOKO’s new Foundation which launches next year as a registered charity, has a mission to empower future generations of artists and protect the environment. The Foundation will begin with a focus on projects within its community of Camden.
Blending together three historic buildings - the original Grade II listed Victorian theatre (1900) plus two adjacent buildings (a former piano factory (1800), and the old Hope & Anchor public house (1860) (a favourite of Charles Dickens) - and building four stories upwards, the new KOKO is architecturally unique. Working closely with English Heritage, the investment of £70m encompasses the extensive restoration of the water damaged theatre and burnt copper dome, as well as a state-of-the-art redevelopment of the new project.
KOKO will return to the public offering a multi-tiered experience including a new shop featuring artist collaborations and a late night pizzeria and tap bar hosting intimate live performances. At the centre of the restoration will be the unveiling of the spectacular and immersive new ”Fly Tower venue” and gallery (the large volume of space above the stage) which was a surprise discovery during the three year development process. Having worked closely with English Heritage to unlock this new space, artists will have the opportunity to perform in the round on a 360 stage or in a more intimate setting, giving music fans a truly unique experience of what the theatre would have been like in early 1900s.
An exciting new membership offering for music lovers over several floors will also give access to a stunning new roof terrace and conservatory, dome cocktail bar, penthouse and recording studio, piano room, library, a hidden speakeasy, stage kitchen and vinyl rooms.
KOKO is being launched in partnership with SISTER, an independent content company which shares KOKO’s vision to create a dynamic new global platform that will help empower the next generation of musicians and artists. Co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone, SISTER is forging partnerships with pioneering independent companies and growing a global ecosystem of creatives ranging from visual production to podcasts to publishing. Leveraging SISTER’s network of creatives and production expertise, SISTER’s partnership with KOKO will present opportunities for the newly formed KOKO Studio as it looks to help artists and brands develop exciting new content and formats.
More information on KOKO including launch season line ups will follow soon.
CEO and Founder Olly Bengough said:
“After three long and epic years of construction and restoration, I’m excited to announce that we will be returning KOKO to the musicians, artists and fans next spring with a beautifully restored theatre and live music offering that will hopefully be a truly unique and unparalleled experience for everyone coming through the doors.
We are as committed as ever to protect our 120 year cultural legacy and to support the next generation of musicians and London’s dynamic and ever growing music scene. We look forward to welcoming everyone back to KOKO in Spring 2022”
Elisabeth Murdoch, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of SISTER, said:
“It’s never been more important to support the next generation of artists and storytellers to collaborate, innovate and share their work. Although we’ve all been eager for the return of live music we’ve also been discovering new ways to engage with the artists we love through their creative endeavours in the digital space, keeping us united as a global community.
"It’s this connective power of music and the arts that Olly and his team are harnessing as they develop KOKO into London’s first next generation global entertainment experience. At SISTER we're really excited to partner with KOKO and to use our collective expertise, networks and shared independence to forge creative collaborations and empower artists and audiences around the world. “
NOTES TO EDITORS
Founder and Creative Director Olly Bengough masterminded the vision for the future of KOKO over a six year period, working with loving care and attention on the planning and restoration of the new building alongside English Heritage, Camden Council, Archer Humphryes (Chiltern Firehouse, The Peninsula Hotel - exterior architecture) and Pirajean Lees (interior architecture). In the past KOKO has hosted over 500 shows per year, holding an exceptional legacy in helping to launch some of the most important musicians of the modern era from Dua Lipa, Amy Winehouse, Stormzy, Skepta, Dave, H.E.R, Childish Gambino, Brockhampton, Janelle Monae, Halsey and more, many of whom go on to become Grammy award winning stadium acts. Whilst KOKO has always been a favourite of the stars, from Kanye West and Bruno Mars to Ed Sheeran and Coldplay, the new KOKO will continue on its mission to support and empower the next generation of musicians - by creating more spaces to artists to play and livestream in the building, supporting talent on the new KOKO Radio station and through the new KOKO Foundation.
SISTER was co-founded by Elisabeth Murdoch, Stacey Snider and Jane Featherstone to develop, produce and invest in visionary creators. SISTER builds upon Featherstone’s Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning scripted indie, Sister Pictures, an independent, modern studio with offices in London and LA. It unites the expertise of the founders alongside a team of renowned creatives to make breakout stories across all forms of media. As well as producing hit shows including Chernobyl (Sky/HBO) and Giri/Haji (BBC/ Netflix), SISTER has made a series of bold investments in new creator-led businesses including South of the River Pictures, Ed Sinclair and Olivia Colman’s production company, Zando, an ambitious new publishing venture from Molly Stern, Campside Media, a podcast studio, and AWA Studios, a comic book and digital media publisher.
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