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From bingo to boxing: One venue’s experience of creative programming

The LEVEL Summit (LVL) recently caught up with Troxy’s Will Poole (WP) to discuss how this former cinema in East London has transformed its programming over the years, and how it manages to keep content creative.

LVL: What did the event calendar look like five years ago?

WP: Five years ago we mainly catered for a mixture of cultural shows, Asian weddings, MMA events and the occasional live or corporate.

LVL: What does it look like today?

WP: Troxy now hosts in the region of 200 events a year. The profile of events has dramatically changed. For example in 2013, we played host to the likes of both the NME and Relentless Kerrang! Awards and held over 40 immersive cinema screenings with our partner Future Cinema. We have also expanded our indoor sport portfolio to now include amateur, White Collar and professional boxing. Live concerts still remains a growth area, the likes of Gaslight Anthem and Vampire Weekend have already played Troxy this year and we have Hurts and Shpongle still to come. The corporate market now plays an important part in our business model and this has seen the most rapid growth.

LVL: How has Troxy gone from being a cinema to an entertainment space?

WP: Troxy actually closed as a cinema in 1960 and was then leased to the Royal Opera House who set up the London Opera Centre, and subsequent to that we became home to Mecca Bingo. Mecca closed the doors in 2005 and Troxy’s current owners opened the venue as a live events space a year later. It was a bit of a gamble as the owners had no experience in running venues or working with event promoters.


LVL: What have been the biggest challenges you have encountered?

WP: The perception of location and access to public transport, there are still a lot of people out there who don’t realise the DLR is a fantastic transport system, that links directly into the Tube network.

LVL: How have audiences reacted to the programming? Have you gained new audiences?

WP: We generally find that the act or show attracts its own audience, who are prepared to travel to the venue. However we do have a local audience which Tweet the fact they love having shows a five minute walk from their house, rather than having to trek over to some of the other similar sized venues in London.

LVL: Which event surprised you the most?

WP: The most challenging event I’ve ever worked on was the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project, delivered by RPM. It is a relatively short lead event and took an incredible amount of planning to achieve what the client required. From a financial perspective, it netted very well.

LVL: Which event did you have the most fun with?

WP: It has to be Future Cinema’s recreation of Bugsy Malone; we hosted 32 shows in 2012 with a total audience of 23,000. We generally are much more flexible than most venues and as such (even in a Grade II listed building) still allowed all the audience to take part in a mass custard pie fight at the appropriate point in the film.

LVL: How does Troxy plan to keep the creativity alive in the future?

WP: Working with the likes of Future Cinema demonstrates how clients need to involve their audience, and we continue to look to work with similar type clients.

LVL: What are your expectations of The LEVEL Summit 2013

WP: To meet similar like minded-people and learn from their experiences.

Will Poole leads our creative programming ‘Think Tank’ session at The LEVEL Summit 2013. Download the programme here: