Crowdfunder launched to save live music at London’s legendary Bush Hall

London venue Bush Hall is attempting to raise £42,000 through crowdfunding to prevent it from losing its music status.

The iconic independent West London venue has hosted gigs over the last 23 years by the likes of REM, Amy Winehouse, Florence & The Machine, Adele, The Killers and Nick Cave. It was also the venue for Kings Of Leon’s first UK show in 2006.

The former Edwardian dance hall has been used as a music venue since 2001, when it was restored by its current owners, Charlie Raworth and Emma Hutchinson.

Now, Bush Hall has confirmed its future as a music establishment is under threat and they are four months away from “making a hideous decision” about whether to cease hosting live music events. It warned that if it were to lose its music status, “the loss will impact on local, national and international communities.”

On its Crowdfunder page, the venue said it has been left “sitting in the red month on month” for several reasons caused by the post-pandemic economy. “The marketplace and audience perspective has dramatically changed, compounded by the cost of living crisis with declining per head spend, spiralling utility and insurance costs and the end of the fixed rate mortgage,” they said. “This leaves us with devastatingly low margins across the sector.

“The lack of profitability has caused the immediate, urgent financial situation for Bush Hall.

“Our bank is forcing a sale to repay the termed mortgage, which they are not willing to renew. This potentially means two businesses may be affected: Bush Hall, and our non-profit music school: Music House for Children.

They continued: “Every penny we have had has been ploughed back into overheads. In April the minimum wage goes up which only raises the burden for hospitality places and will increase our supplier costs yet again with budget increases also expected.

“We have always been a rare breed of independent, self-sustainable grassroots music and events venue. We now seriously need funding support and investment, so we can continue our musical journey and not be forced to market during the recent and ongoing recession.”

Amy Winehouse
UNITED KINGDOM – DECEMBER 02: BUSH HALL Photo of Amy WINEHOUSE (Photo by Sal Idriss/Redferns)

Bush Hall added that they’d also suffered from a 24.5 per cent drop in live music bookings in 2023.

The venue has until April 12 to raise the £42,000 they need to keep their music status. If they don’t raise their target by then, all money will be returned to the donors. You can donate here.

According to the Music Venue Trust’s full report into the state of the sector for 2023, described as the “most challenging year”, it has been reported that last year saw 125 UK venues abandon live music and that over half of them had shut entirely – including the legendary Moles in Bath. Some of the more pressing constraints were reported as soaring energy prices, landlords increasing rate amounts, supply costs, business rates, licensing issues, noise complaints and the continuing shockwaves of COVID-19.

“This is a disaster: 16 per cent of the grassroots music venues in this country closed in the last 12 months,” said the charity’s CEO Mark Davyd. “It’s just not good enough. I stood here 12 months ago, and I’m sorry to be Mystic Meg about this, but I said, ‘If the big companies in this industry don’t get their act together, then hundreds of venues will close’. And guess what? They didn’t get their act together and hundreds of venues have closed. So, I’m afraid you are now going to have to answer for this.

“Don’t go on the cover of Music Week, Billboard, IQ and all these other magazines telling us how brilliant 2023 was for live music when 125 communities lost access to live music that they love. It’s not good enough.”

In contrast, last week Live Nation reported 2023 as its biggest year ever for concert turnout and ticket sales – even though two grassroots music venues are closing per week.

Bush Hall isn’t the only London venue to announce it is under threat this week. The famed LGBTQIA+ venue Heaven’s future is in jeopardy after their landlord, The Arch Company, increased their rent by £320,000. They have now entered into an arbitration dispute.

“If you wonder why so many venues are closing. If you wonder why we are losing more LGBT Venues. Look no further than LANDLORDS,” read a post by the club’s founder and G-A-Y owner Jeremy Joseph.

 


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