AMG Plans Nights On The Tiles

Academy Music Group has bought the kitchen and bathroom tile shop next to Oxford, England’s Zodiac to make space for the £2 million refurb that will make it a three-room venue.

The work is expected to be completed in time for it to open in September with a 900-capacity venue downstairs, which will be renamed Carling Academy Oxford, a 436-capacity upstairs room that will retain The Zodiac name, and a 280-capacity Bar Academy that can be used as a stand-alone venue or as an additional room for club nights.

"In designing the building, flexibility is key to supporting music in Oxford as well as offering a must-play location at the higher end of this development for major touring acts," explained AMG chief exec John Northcote, who announced the acquisition of the old Zodiac while helping organize the sale of a little more than half of his company stock to LN-Gaiety.

Venue manager Carl Bathgate, who joined AMG in November 2005 after six years as promoter and entertainment manager at Liverpool University’s Student Union, said it’s important to have a room like the Zodiac to introduce and encourage new acts that may even be upgraded to the Academy.

Each of the separate performance spaces will have state-of-the-art facilities both front of house and backstage and full in-house production – a feature of the Academy provincial venue network that has outlets in Glasgow, Newcastle, Liverpool, Birmingham and Bristol.

AMG will introduce an optional 650 "seated format" for Carling Academy Oxford or seating for 250 people in The Zodiac.

There will also be a new box office outlet that will sell tickets for all AMG venues nationwide, and the majority of major live music, theatre and sporting events across the U.K.

A few months ago, and still before the deal for LN Gaiety to buy into the company was finalised and given Competition Commission clearance, Northcote announced AMG had also acquired the Brighton Hippodrome.

That site is due for redevelopment and re-branding as an Academy venue once the Oxford venue has come on line.