Oxford venue The Cellar announces closure after rent battle

"We simply could not keep operating under these conditions."

Popular Oxford venue The Cellar has closed its doors for the final time, after an escalating battle over rent.

The basement venue was known for hosting intimate gigs and previously played host to bands such as Foals at the very start of their career.

But while a campaign to save The Cellar received backing from the likes of Radiohead, Jarvis Cocker, Glass Animals and Foals, it’s been confirmed that the venue will now shut forever.

“We are very sad to inform you that The Cellar closed its doors for the last time on 11th March 2019. After crunching the numbers, a thousand times over, the Hopkins family, who have run the independent music venue, for nearly 40 years, have sadly come to conclusion that they cannot continue,” a statement on Facebook confirmed.

“After months of negotiations, we would have loved to have been able to take the landlord’s final rent offer, but it came too late. What’s more, even with a vaguely do-able rent agreed, there were no guarantees on the time frame of the building work, which required access to the shop above and various structural considerations. Essentially, the whole process took far longer than we were expecting, and we simply could not keep operating under these conditions.

“We are grateful to the landlords for recognising the cultural importance of the venue, and we hope that we have saved this space from becoming a store room. Moreover, we hope that the space, in some shape or form, will continue as a live music venue.”

It has been confirmed that the £92,000 raised to save the venue will be returned to supporters.

“Over 2000 people donated to the Cellar Forever campaign, showing that the people of Oxford really care about what The Cellar stands for, and the values it embodies – independence, individuality and creativity,” the owners explained.

“The amazing £92K that we raised will be returned to everyone’s bank accounts (For *further details on what will happen to some of the rewards that have been donated please read on to the end).”

Responding to the news, one fan wrote: “Very sad to hear this, but your efforts to make it viable were inspiring. Oxford needs spaces like the Cellar; it’s a duller place without them.”

Another said: “Terribly sad – I’ve had some of my best Oxford times in The Cellar. A heartfelt well done to everyone involved in the Cellar Forever campaign – it was a wonderful community effort that made me really proud of the live music community in our city. It will not be forgotten. You should all be very proud.”

While future gigs were scheduled to take place at The Cellar, it is yet to be confirmed if they will be moved to another venue.