The Clapham Grand, one of London’s oldest entertainment venues, has launched a celebrity-backed crowdfunder to help save it from permanent closure
The Clapham Grand, which has survived two world wars, riots, a decade of closure in the 80s and even the 1918 global flu-pandemic, faces the threat of permanent closure due to the ongoing coronavirus lockdown.
A recent survey by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) found that 554 of its 670 member venues are under threat of ‘imminent closure’ as a result of the pandemic – that’s around 82% of the UK’s live venues.
Certain venues are ineligible for government funding, yet are still liable for rent and building insurance. The ban of live events makes income generation near impossible, and the resulting financial deficit could force thousands of doors to close forever – imminently.
The team behind the historic Clapham event space has launched the #SaveTheGrand campaign, which has garnered support from the likes of award-winning singer Frank Turner and even former Prime Minister Sir John Major.
‘All live music venues are facing a tough time right now, across the country, but The Grand in Clapham is a special case,’ says Frank Turner.
‘The venue is steeped in the history of entertainment, it’s been there for 120 years, providing a stage for everything from music hall to rock ‘n’ roll through to rave.
‘It’s the perfect example of the fact that, without venues, the culture in our communities will have no space to germinate, grow, thrive, or even exist.’
Frank Turner has been livestreaming gigs to raise awareness for a number of independent venues:
Sir John Major adds: ‘I hope that everyone who cares for Music Hall and Variety will offer any help they can to this wonderful and venerable old theatre.’
The crowdfunder is offering pledges from £10 right up to £20,000 to help save the venue, with a fundraising target of £50,000.
Donations will get you anything from tickets to online events to a karaoke party to a royal box to a future event and even the chance to own oldest light up dance-floor in London.
Based in Clapham Junction, The Grand has consistently focused on supporting the creative arts, offering diverse programming from boxing and Bollywood to discos and drag, offering a stage to performers such as Charlie Chaplin, Oasis and American drag queen Bianca Del Rio during its time.
‘Without cultural spaces like The Grand and so many other venues now at risk, we will have a very different and incredibly sparse cultural landscape’
The Grade II listed building, which first opened in 1900 as The New Grand Theatre of Varieties, provides entertainment for all walks of life, from live World Cup finals screenings to bingo nights and a safe space for the LGBTQ+ and POC community.
‘Without cultural spaces like The Grand and so many other venues now at risk, we will have a very different and incredibly sparse cultural landscape,’ says The Grand’s Manager Ally Wolf.
‘As one of London’s biggest and oldest independently owned venues, we are speaking out on behalf of our industry and ask for people’s kind support in helping to ensure our doors will once again reopen.’
The Grand is currently hosting a series of live-streamed virtual events with a varied line-up of names signed up to perform as part of the #SaveTheGrand project. For a list of upcoming events, see claphamgrand.com.
More ways to help London’s venues: