David Hockney, the Yorkshire boy who returned to his native county in 2005 after more than four decades in Los Angeles, has joined campaigners to save a derelict Art Deco cinema threatened with demolition in his hometown of Bradford.
"They should not pull anything more down in Bradford," the artist wrote to the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (B.O.R.G), "especially that splendid building which could be used for many imaginative things."
In its heyday, the Bradford Odeon hosted performances by the likes of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. John Lennon even signed the dressing-room wall after a show in 1964. But the venue is now to make way for an office and shopping complex.
Yet resistance is gathering momentum, galvanized by the support of high-profile artists and performers such as Michael Palin, Jenny Agutter, and Barbara Windsor. "The Odeon is the epitome of British cinema at its greatest," said actress Agutter. "It is a symbol of possibility and it would be a real loss if that was taken away."
According to B.O.R.G, the destruction of the Bradford Odeon would contravene Bradford's UNESCO status as "City of Film." So far, 1,000 supporters have signed a petition to turn the cinema into an arts centre dedicated to late DJ John Peel.
"The people of Bradford seem fiercely and rightly proud of their forefathers' contributions to the city's historic architecture," said CEO of World Monuments Fund Britain Jonathan Foyle. "Bradford should now be expected to follow a policy for preservation on behalf of its citizens, and reject the wastage of further demolition."
The building is currently under the responsibility of the Homes and Communities Agency, which claims to be bound by a legal agreement made between its predecessor and developers to go ahead with the new building.