Cellar launches crowdfunding campaign to avoid fears of closure

Local News News

Image Credit: Basher Eyre (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Oxford’s independent music venue The Cellar has launched an £80,000 crowdfunding campaign to avoid closure in early December.

In June, Oxford County Council inspectors, had said that the venue’s 70cm fire escape was 30cm too narrow, and therefore the club was ordered to cut the number of people it allowed in from 150 to just 60, making it unviable as a live music venue. It is set to close on December 3 unless it can raise money to widen the exit and make up for lost earnings.

Prominent musicians, including members of Radiohead and the Foals, have supported this latest campaign.

Indie-rock band, Foals, played some of their earliest gigs at The Cellar, before going on to global stardom. 

Frontman Yannis Philippakis has said: “Oxford’s best small venue is under threat. It’s also my childhood bar and the place Foals first learned to rock out.”

Drummer Jack Bevan said: “The Cellar was one of the places where it all began for us […] keep it open.”

Philip Selway, Radiohead’s drummer, has donated a signed drum used on tour and to record Radiohead’s Mercury Prize-nominated album In Rainbow, which is being sold for £5,000 on the club’s crowdfunder page. 

He has said: “The Cellar is an important part of the musical and cultural life of Oxford. It is venues like this that are actually the life blood of music; they support and nurture new and emerging talent. Also with its history of hosting bands like Foals and The National and Mumford and Sons, there’s an extra incentive as a performer to raise your game so this all adds up to memorable performances in a great venue. Lets not lose it.”

Artists and promoters have donated golden gig tickets, T-shirts, and private performances to the appeal. The club is also inviting people to become patrons.

Venue manager Tim Hopkins said: “It was people power that saved The Cellar last year, and that showed me how much the community care about this place and how important it is to keep it alive.

“We’ve always been proud of the opportunities we can provide to local and national musicians to hone their craft, as well as seeing budding promoters, bar managers and technical crew come up through the ranks, and providing a warm friendly space for people to come together and let off some steam.

“Running a small venue these days is not a money maker, and sadly, with the extent of the renovations we’ve been asked to make, we simply don’t have the money to pay for them – which is why we’re calling on people power again with this crowdfunding campaign. As well as our own passion to keep going, we owe it to all our amazing supporters to give this one last try. If we are a successful then it’ll make big improvements to what we already offer – widening the audience area, giving customers much better visibility and increasing our capacity to 200. We’re truly excited to get stuck in.

“We hope that with the right support we can ride through this difficult moment, and rebuild The Cellar for future generations to enjoy.”

The plight of The Cellar was discussed earlier last week at a meeting of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee, with former Oxford rapper ShoaDow telling MPs about the importance of the venue when building his own career.