The music scene in London is one of the best in the world, attracting big name artists to iconic venues such as the Electric Ballroom (Camden), the Forum (Kentish Town) and Brixton Academy. These independent grassroots venues are essential, not only for artists starting their careers but also for communities. Furthermore, they contribute significantly to the night time economy. Most of the smaller music bars and venues have been closed since the start of the pandemic and are struggling for survival because many of them did not receive sufficient Arts Council England emergency funding.
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) is a UK registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues for the benefit of communities and upcoming artists. The MVT has launched a ‘traffic light’ campaign (#savethe30) to save thirty live music venues around the UK which it has identified as likely to close without urgent support. Seven of them are in London: EGG and the Lexington (both Kings Cross), the Windmill (Brixton), Alchemy (Croydon), the Spiritual Bar (Chalk Farm), the Post Bar (Tottenham) and the Waiting Room (Stoke Newington). You can help by asking your MP to support the campaign, by buying merchandise or by donating to your favourite music venue. Go to the MVT #SaveOurVenues Red List at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-our-venues-red-list.
To feature one of them, the Lexington in Kings Cross is a gem amongst London’s smaller music venues, with an interior described as ‘bordello baroque’. It has played host to Graham Coxon and Billy Bragg in the past. The pub only received 40% of the Arts Council England funding which they applied for and they are waiting to hear if they have been successful in the current round of Arts Council England funding, which should be announced sometime in January. In the meantime they are raising additional funds to ensure their survival until March 2021. The Lexington’s manager, Stacey Thomas, told London Drinker, “I was really upset and inconsolable when I got the news, as we expected to be fully funded. We are looking forward to reopening and putting on bands and drinking good beer.” Stacey likes to support local breweries and there are four handpumps in the downstairs bar, usually serving cask ales from the likes of Redemption and Signature Brew. The pub also features US craft beers and, possibly uniquely, has its own brand of bourbon whisky called Whiskey Thief. It is produced by MGP Distilleries in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, and bottled and matured by the pub. It is described as a mature and truly well-rounded bourbon, with a pleasant sweetness, an undercurrent of fruit spice, delicate vanilla and mocha notes finishing with a hint of liquorish.
If you wish to help save this unique music venue, please take a look at the Save the Lexington crowdfunding campaign for rewards and merchandise at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/help-the-lexington-surviveuntil-march-savethe30.
(Joanne is Pub Protection Officer for CAMRA’s North London Branch)