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9500+ sign petition to save Oxford venue The Cellar

By | Published on Thursday 31 August 2017

The Cellar in Oxford

Over 9500 people have now signed a petition calling on the landlords of Oxford venue The Cellar to allow the club and music space to continue to operate. It follows the news earlier this week that the venue’s landlord – St Michael’s & All Saint’s Charities – plans to redevelop the basement space for retail use.

The Cellar was opened 40 years ago by local promoter Adrian Hopkins and is now managed by his son Tim. It has long history of presenting an eclectic mix of artists and genres through its gig and clubbing programme – especially up and coming talent – as well hosting comedy, film, art and student theatre events.

Commenting on the news that redevelopment may force the venue out, Tim Hopkins told reporters earlier this week: “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”.

Speaking for St Michael’s And All Saints’ Charities, which also owns the shop unit above The Cellar, currently occupied by Lush, Rupert Sheppard told the BBC: “The trustees have no wish to cause unnecessary upset to those who value The Cellar, but it will be appreciated that they are under obligations to act in the best interests of the charities and their beneficiaries”.

With that position in mind, Hopkins went on: “We appreciate the pressures that may be felt by St Michael’s And All Saint’s Charities, but the aims of the charity are not furthered by losing such a vital local space. We would welcome the opportunity to work with St Michaels 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”.

The UK’s Music Venue Trust has likewise called on St Michael’s And All Saint’s Charities to halt its planning application to redevelop The Cellar space into a retail unit, and to instead liaise with Hopkins on possible alternative options.

It’s CEO Mark Davyd said: “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. 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.”

Foals, Ride, Glass Animals, Objekt, Rob Da Bank and Young Knives are among the artists and DJs to have already backed the campaign to save The Cellar. The online petition is here.