200-capacity Paisley club, The Bungalow, will disappear from the gig circuit in April
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"A sad day for those who love live music": the Borderline to close as owner DHP Family struggles with higher rents, rising business rates and licensing pressures
By Anna Grace on 13 May 2019
London venue Borderline has announced it will close its doors this summer, after more than 30 years hosting acts including Debbie Harry, Blur, Muse, Amy Winehouse and the 1975.
Promoter and venue operator DHP Family, who bought the Borderline from Mama in 2016, has made the decision to close the 300-capacity venue by August 31 in the face of “ever increasing rents, rising business rates and ongoing redevelopment plans for Soho”.
According to music charity the Music Venue Trust (MVT), 35% of UK grassroots music venues have closed in the last decade. A 4% rise in business rates –the tax levied on non-residential property in the UK – has caused further problems for music venues, which are not eligible for the tax rebates applicable to other small businesses. Escalating London rents have also impacted many venues.
“This has been a difficult decision, but given intentions by the landlord to increase the rent significantly for a second time since we took it over in 2016 as well as plans to redevelop the building housing the Borderline, we now know the venue doesn’t have a long term future so it makes no sense for us to continue to invest,” says DHP Family managing director George Akins.
“This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues”
“We’ve had an amazing two years at Borderline with some fantastic shows and want to thank everyone for their support from agents, promoters and artists to all the thousands who have come to the gigs and club nights.
“We’ve put our all into trying to revive this iconic venue but unfortunately, it has been impossible to turn into a sustainable operation due to so many external factors. This is a sad day for all of us who love live music and believe in grassroots venues,” adds Akins.
DHP has retained the Borderline names and will consider opportunities to relocate the venue.
Akins says that DHP is “still committed to creating and running the best grassroots music venues in the country.” The company plans to reinvest in other parts of its portfolio, setting aside £1 million for work on Bristol’s Thekla, preparing for the 40th anniversary of Rock City in Nottingham and working on the opening of its first venue in Birmingham.
The announcement comes in the midst of a spate of good news for UK grassroots venues, as fellow DHP-owned London venue, the Garage, last week won protection from the local council which has pledged to safeguard the venue in case of area redevelopment and MVT recently announced £1.5 million in funding to protect and improve grassroots music venues, as well as support from industry-led initiatives.
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