Part creative community, part arts venue, Village Underground is a non-profit space for creativity and culture in the heart of East London.
The main Village Underground centre is housed in a renovated turn-of-the-century warehouse primed for everything from concerts and club nights to exhibitions, theatre, live art and other performances.
High above Great Eastern Street, atop the venue, four recycled Jubilee line train carriages and shipping containers make up the creative studios of Village Underground.
These uniquely renovated spaces accommodate up to 50 artists, writers, designers, filmmakers, VJ's, and musicians working side-by-side in a creative community.
In addition to being a cultural centre, Village Underground is an ecological project. From recycled trains and shipping containers, to reclaimed sleepers, staircases, furniture and flooring, we believe in reusing before recycling.
All studios are virtually carbon neutral. Our electricity is supplied by Ecotricity - 100% green energy from wind turbines.
The living roof increases biodiversity, dampens concert noise, reduces urban heat, absorbs carbon emissions and provides insulation, cutting fuel consumption and minimizing environmental impact.
Village Underground was born of the need for affordable, environmentally stable studio space for artists in central London.
Originally we explored several sites for the project, but the Broad Street Rail Viaduct stole our hearts. Built in 1848, the viaduct had been derelict for over 20 years and had self seeded into a meadow with trees and wildlife.
Along with the viaduct, we negotiated with Hackney Council to also take over the then severely derelict Victorian warehouse. Where better to start a cultural centre than a place whose previous incarnations include a railway coal store, a music hall, and an eighteenth century theatre?
The main renovations took place over the course of a year, just in time for our opening April 2007.
Village Underground is an accredited Living Wage employer.
The Living Wage is an hourly rate set independently and updated annually. The Living Wage is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK.
The Living Wage Foundation recognises and celebrates the leadership shown by Living Wage employers across the UK. There are currently over 1,200 accredited employers.
The Living Wage Foundation believes that work should be the surest way out of poverty.
Village Underground is now an Apprenticeship employer and is working with DV8 Apprenticeships to "equip young people with the real-world experience and training needed to succeed in the creative industries and to be an invaluable asset to the workplace."
To rebuild the site we raised funds from a number loans from social enterprise and community development finance initiatives, London Rebuilding Society, Triodos Bank, Fair Finance and GLE One London, we also received a grant from UnLtd, The Foundation For Social Entrepreneurs.
This early funding was supplemented by the income of using our space for film and photography shoots and later events and artistic happenings. This continues to be the main income of Village Underground which operates as a self sustaining cultural organisation and social enterprise.