The Lexington and Union Chapel appeal for funds to weather out the coronavirus crisis
PUBLISHED: 14:03 30 June 2020
Two of Islington’s live music venues, The Lexington and the Union Chapel have raised thousands through crowd funding platforms to help them to survive the financial fall-out of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Union Chapel, which operates as a a working church, live entertainment venue and charity drop-in centre for the homeless in Upper Street has clocked up £72,000 in donations on the Mayor of London’s Pay It Forward appeal platform.
Meanwhile The Lexington in Pentonville Road where Billy Bragg, Joan as Policewoman and Graham Coxon have all performed, so far has £65,000.
The two venues have joined 800 music venues in the UK who have signed an open letter to the government, calling on them to support the sector through a £50 million financial support package and a reduction on VAT on future ticket sales.
They point out that singing, dancing, standing close to others and being in a confined space for a long period, are all high-risk activities according to Public Health advice - yet are the four pillars of the live music experience they offer.
A spokesperson for the Union Chapel, which has become a Covid-19 community emergency response hub, said: “We are now facing a minimum six-month and possibly longer closure. This could be hugely damaging to our future.
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“Since closure we have already spent over £60,000 to keep going and running our community emergency response space. As an independent venue, Union Chapel receives very little funding, and the revenue from our venue is the majority of our whole organisation’s income - which then supports our charitable work with the communities and maintaining our beautiful building.”
The Lexington has received no relief on rent, is ineligible for any government grant and has received no compensation from its insurers, and its managers are concerned about the “increasingly difficult position of getting the doors back open when the time comes”.
Manager Marcus Harris said: “We face a very real threat of permanent closure within only a few short months.
“During the early stages of the UK’s COVID-19 pandemic we took the difficult decision, for the first time in 11 years, to close our doors.
“We did this ahead of government intervention as we thought it was the most socially responsible thing to do. “From the outset we’ve been committed to paying our staff in full over the closure period as it would be impossible to do what we do without them.
“However, between topping up furloughed wages in full and paying our rent we are spending over £25,000 each month for the luxury of having our doors closed. We simply can’t afford to keep our doors shut for £25,000 a month.”
To support the Union Chapel go to payitforward.london.gov.uk/union-chapel-needs-you.
To support The Lexington go to payitforward.london.gov.uk/save-the-lexington.
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