Rob da Bank, Foals join campaign to save the Cellar
Local bands Foals, Ride and Glass Animals, along with DJ and Bestival founder Rob da Bank, are among those to have signed a new petition opposing the impending closure of the Cellar, one of Oxford’s best-loved independent music venues.
The 150-capacity basement club – established 40 years ago by local promoter Adrian Hopkins and now managed by his son, Tim – is to be turned into a retail space, landlord St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities announced earlier this week.
In addition to Foals, Glass Animals et al., the Cellar has hosted early-career shows by Mumford & Sons, The xx, Young Knives, Stornoway, Diplo and Friendly Fires, and is recognised as a “pivotal venue in the development of Oxford’s musical history”, according to the petition, which is already close to its 10,000-signature target.
Tim Hopkins comments: “It is devastating news, not just for the Cellar team, but for the Oxford music scene as a whole. The loss of an important cultural asset such as the Cellar is a matter of concern for everyone – not just the music fans and musicians of Oxford. It should be of concern to anyone who cares about jobs, the night-time economy, local creativity and the social community of the city. We appreciate the pressures that may be felt by St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities, but the aims of the charity are not furthered by losing such a vital local space.
“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay”
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with St Michael’s and All Saints’ to look at an alternative way to increase their income, if this is their aim, but we have yet to be consulted on this. Working together could led to economic benefits for the charity, and we urge the trustees to pause and consider the wider benefits that a cultural space such as the Cellar brings to the local community.”
Mark Davyd of Music Venue Trust says allowing the conversion of the venue to a shop would be contrary to Oxford City Council’s culture strategy. “We urge St Michaels and All Saints to withdraw their application and work with the Cellar to develop a proposal that protects this important venue,” he comments. “Oxford City Council have a very clear cultural strategy, and converting a fantastic cultural asset like the Cellar into a retail space quite obviously flies in the face of that, as well as the needs of local people.
“It’s quite clear that the people of Oxford want the Cellar to stay, and we hope the charity will recognise this and reconsider their plans.”
IQ revealed earlier this month that publicly funded arts body Arts Council England has allocated just 0.06% of its total funding to popular music venues in its 2018–22 grants.
Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.