‘We need more time’: Music venue faces being kicked out by landlord in days if fundraiser not met

A much-loved music venue is fighting for more time to raise money or it will be kicked out of the premises by its landlord.

The Matchstick Piehouse in Edward Street, Deptford, has been told it needs to stump up £36,000 or else it will lose the venue.

The venue founder, Adam Gerrett, 31, lives metres away from the building and said the prospect of losing it was “such a shame”.

Mr Gerrett said the venue – which has seen big names such as Peckham punk band Goat Girl and Steam Down perform – had difficulties trading after pandemic and had a “longstanding issue of rent arrears” since then.

The band htcap perform (Picture: Matchstick Piehouse)

“We got onto a payment plan at the beginning of 2023,” he said. “We stuck to it but made one payment late and in that period there was an escalation. We’re lobbying for the landlord to give us more time to raise the money because the community wants to see the venue survive. If we can make that money we will survive.”

If the venue is able to pay off the £36,000 it will be cleared of all debt. Last Thursday the venue was given a deadline of yesterday to pay the debt. Mr Gerrett was told yesterday by the landlord the deadline had been withdrawn, but not in writing and with no confirmation of a new deadline.

Mr Gerrett was unable to confirm the identity of the landlord.

The Matchstick Piehouse was borne out of a large group of friends who took over the venue in 2018 and ran it as volunteers, as a music and community space.

“It was a project born of love,” said Mr Gerrett. “We built that out in to a place of employment and a significant community space.”

The venue prides itself on being a space for everyone, with a particular emphasis on welcoming queer and underrepresented communities.

“It would be such a shame to see so many people build such a great home for so many artists which could be gone so quickly,” said Mr Gerrett. “I guarantee at least half of the venues out there, if not more, are struggling with the same problem as us.”

The fundraiser launched on Monday has raised more than £15,000 in just two days. As of Thursday morning the fundraiser hit £18,250.

“It’s insane when you say it out loud,” said Mr Gerrett. “The speed and volume of people uniting to say no we want to see this venue her existing has really laid testament to what the building has done over the past five years and the connections it makes with people. People stand up for stuff that’s valued.”

One of the biggest draws to Matchstick Piehouse in recent years has been the cross-discipline jazz and afrobeat act Steam Down.

Wayne Francis, founder of Steam Down and saxophone player in the collective, said the venue was “community driven”.

Artist Shantéh from band Steam Down (Picture: Matchstick Piehouse)

“Venues like Matchstick encourage communication between strangers which is something that can be hard to find in other music venues in the city,” said Mr Francis. “We decided to start out at Matchstick because they align with what we believe in at Steam Down, they have a community focus.”

Mr Francis said it was venue for artists across a range of experience but that a lot of young musicians pass through there which gives them space to develop.

“[The possible closure] represents the plight of independent venues in London, I’ve been around a little while and seen it happen to others and it tears away the few spaces people have to meet up and have a bond in a city,” he said.

Though the sax player added he “never really doubted” the level of community support so far shown in the fundraiser and that it should be used as an example as to why these spaces are needed.

The venue has planned fundraising events over the next week at different venues to try and reach the target.

Lousie McPhail, 26, who also lives in Deptford, is the venue booker for Matchstick Piehouse. She said the possibility of losing her job was “terrifying”.

“There will be no jobs left. It’s really scary. It’s such a great place to work because we kind of created our own jobs and opportunities. It’s the kind of place where they let ideas grow, no two days are the same.

“It’s such an important place to so many people. I feel really hopeful that we can reach the target. The music scene needs grassroots venues like this.”

You can donate to the Matchstick Piehouse fundraiser here and find out more details about fundraising events.

Pictured top: Band Indigo Blue perform at the venue (Picture: Matchstick Piehouse)

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