Legendary London venue The Social needs to raise £95,000 in just two weeks or face threat of closure.
Following a long-running and successful club night by Heavenly Records in the ’90s, the label opened The Social on Little Portland Street in West London in 1999. Since then, they’ve played host to the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Florence & The Machine, Beck, Jack White, Vampire Weekend, The Horrors, Doves, Lily Allen, Aphex Twin, Super Furry Animals, Shame and many, many more.
As the venue’s 20th anniversary approaches, they’ve now launched a crowdfunding campaign to urgently raise money to prevent redevelopment.
“Rising rents and an offer to the building’s leaseholder from a cocktail and wine bar chain have put The Social under very serious threat,” the venue said in a statement. “The bar’s founders need to raise money to buy a controlling share in the venue from the leaseholder in order to keep The Social open.
“Unless new investment is found in the next two weeks then the iconic venue will be forced to close its doors. We’re asking you for help.”
The venue added: “We need to raise £95,000 ASAP as a down payment to get the venue off the market, save it from turning into just another bar and then kick start a second round of private investment so we can take full control of The Social lease and secure its long-term future.”
If saved, the venue promise to offer the ‘biggest small festival in the world’ in celebration of their 20th anniversary, as well working to put on more club nights and artists, help to promote independent breweries, and open more venues across the UK.
“If The Social is saved we would quickly look to set up further venues and take the kind of music and arts culture clash we’ve promoted in Little Portland Street to the rest of London and beyond,” they said.
“Basically, wherever anyone wants us, we’ll be there.”
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Speaking to NME, a City Hall spokesman on behalf of the Mayor of London said: “Venues like The Social are a vital part of London’s culture and night life – but it’s no secret that rising rates, rents and increased development have been putting real pressure on venues.
“The Mayor’s Culture at Risk team is in touch with The Social to offer support including access to business advice through Mayor’s London Growth Hub and has put the venue’s owners in touch with Westminster Council about business rates relief.
They added: “The Mayor has no powers over commercial issues but through his Culture at Risk Office and with Night Czar, Amy Lamé, he has already supported more than 350 spaces at risk of closure, for example through his planning policies he has ensured that music venues like Corsica Studios and the George Tavern stay open. After a decade of decline, the number of grassroots music venues has remained stable but more work needs to be done to ensure every Londoner can enjoy a thriving nightlife.”
Last year, London’s ‘Night Czar’ Amy Lamé came under fire as venues across the city continue to face closure despite her role to promote and protect them.
Responding to NME, Lamé said: “Helping venues not just survive but thrive is an important part of my role. That’s why I work closely with the city’s first ever Culture at Risk Office, a dedicated resource set up by the Mayor to support cultural spaces and venues at risk of closure.”
She added: “London has a great musical heritage, but if we don’t support our grassroots venues and fail to protect facilities for emerging talent, then we’re putting the city’s position as the music capital of the world at risk. That’s why we are doing all we can to keep existing venues and encourage new ones to open.”
This comes after beloved Oxford venue The Cellar announced this week that they too would be closing down following a rent battle.
Last year, a number of leading artists and industry figures led the Agent Of Change campaign to stop the closure of independent live music venues across the UK.
“Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different,” said Sir Paul McCartney of the campaign. “If we don’t support music at this level, then the future of music in general is in danger.”