DHP Family unveils new London venue
UK-based promoter and venue operator DHP Family is launching the Grace, a new late night music venue in Islington, north London.
The 150-capacity venue is the latest addition to the DHP Family portfolio, which includes London venues the Garage (600-capacity) and Oslo (375-capacity), as well as award-winning boat venue Thekla (400-cap.) in Bristol.
Opening today (Friday 13 September) with music by DJs from Soho record store Sister Ray Records, upcoming shows at the venue include country singer Lauren Jenkins, Manchester bands Ist Ist Ist and the Covasettes and neo-soul singer Ben Brown.
Housed in what originally opened as Upstairs at the Garage, the space has already hosted acts including Jeff Buckley, the Killers, Sheryl Crow, Mogwai and Grimes.
“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space”
“London is well known for its live music pubs which are institutions in their own right,” comments DHP Family owner George Akins.
“Here at the Grace, we had the perfect opportunity to combine our bar and live music space to create an atmospheric space that can function equally well for after-work drinks or post-gig partying.”
The Grace will open from 5 p.m. each day, closing at 2 a.m. Monday to Thursday and at 4 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. The venue will not open on Sundays.
The venue is situated opposite Highbury and Islington tube station. More information can be found here.
In addition to its venue portfolio, Nottingham-based DHP Family runs the 25,000-capacity Splendour festival in Nottingham and multi-venue festival Dot to Dot in several cities. DHP also puts on 1,500 gigs per year, promoting tours by Ed Sheeran, the War on Drugs, Enter Shikari and more.
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London venue the Borderline closes after 30 years
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.
Bristol’s Thekla to receive £1m dry dock overhaul
DHP Family-owned Thekla (400-cap.), the award-winning live music boat venue based in Bristol, UK, is to be taken into dry dock on Monday 3 June for a £1 million overhaul to secure the boat’s next 50 years as a venue and club.
Ahead of the overhaul, Thekla will celebrate its 35th anniversary weekend from Thursday 2 to Saturday 5 May, with acts including BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, drum and bass artist Roni Size, rock group October Drift and Hessle Audio co-founder Pangaea.
Built in 1958, a new steel offset hull will be welded to the whole of the boat’s existing hull. A recent detailed survey showed that the current hull is near the end of its life, despite regular, routine inspections and repairs.
“There’s a lot of love for Thekla in Bristol, around the country and worldwide. Both music fans and bands like Florence and the Machine, White Denim, Mumford and Sons, Ellie Goulding and many others who have played there over the years have taken part in some great nights,” says George Akins of DHP Family.
“We’re committed to preserving that heritage and that’s why we’re getting the new hull fitted – we need to make sure that Thekla continues to be a great night out for the next 50 years,” adds Akins.
“There’s a lot of love for Thekla in Bristol, around the country and worldwide […] we need to make sure that Thekla continues to be a great night out for the next 50 years”
At over 50 metres in length, Thekla is one of the longest ships in Bristol’s floating harbour. Repairs will be undertaken in the grade two listed Albion dry dock, which reopened in 2018 to allow maintenance and repair to be carried out on large ships in the city.
“We are very pleased to be undertaking works on Thekla and so secure her long term future in Bristol,” comments Martin Childs, co-owner of the Albion Dock Company. “Equally, her visit to the Albion Dockyard helps our venture in bringing this historic facility back to full time use as a working dry dock.”
Thekla will return to its usual position in Bristol’s floating harbour and reopen to the public in early September 2019. The Thekla team will announce the exact date of its reopening through its website and social media channels.
In 2017, DHP called on supporters to back its #savethekla campaign amid fears that noise complaints would cause the venue to close following the approval of a new housing development adjacent to the venue.
More information about the Thekla 35th anniversary celebrations can be found here.
Fears for Thekla future as Bristol greenlights new development
One of Britain’s most unique music venues, DHP Family’s Thekla in Bristol, is facing an uncertain future following Bristol City Council’s decision to approve a new housing development adjacent to the 400-cap. venue.
DHP fears Thekla – a former cargo ship moored in Bristol’s Mud Dock – could be forced to close due to potential noise complaints from the new flats at Redcliffe Wharf if the developer fails to put in sufficient soundproofing to protect its residents.
At the planning meeting on Wednesday night, developer Complex Development Projects gave assurances it would carry out a a new and more comprehensive noise assessment prior to the development’s completion. DHP says, however, that despite it calling for the planning decision to be deferred until this had taken place, councillors gave Complex the green light.
“We appeal to the developer to keep to their promise to work with us on a new noise survey and improved sound insulation scheme to protect Thekla and the future residents from noise problems,” comments DHP Family’s head of compliance, Julie Tippins. “We expect the council to follow up on the assurances they gave to councillors to only give the go-ahead once they were satisfied the Thekla would be protected from future noise complaints from residents of the development.
“This is not the end of the fight to protect Thekla … we have to ensure all parties keep to the commitments they have given”
“This is certainly not the end of the fight to protect the Thekla, as we have to ensure that all parties keep to the commitments they have given. We urge our supporters to contact their local councillors and MPs to ensure the council does all it can to protect the future of the Thekla.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, adds: “Sensible and adequately planned residential developments near to grassroots music venues like the Thekla mean that residents and music lovers can happily co-exist. That outcome starts at the planning application stage when a good developer recognises the cultural value of the existing music venue and takes steps to protect it.
“Recognising the existence of an iconic music venue like Thekla starts with a thorough environmental impact study that specifically understands the noise in the area. Properly understanding noise and activity results in great design for any refurbishment or new building, ensuring noise is managed and controlled.”
DHP is calling on supporters to back its #savethekla campaign to make sure the commitment to carry out a more comprehensive noise survey is honoured.