Oxford’s most beloved independent music venue, The Cellar, has confirmed it will be permanently closed.
Despite the landslide success from its last campaign, Cellar Forever, which saw music-lovers and the likes of Gaz Coombes, Radiohead’s Philip Sellway and Yannis Philippakis of Foals back the campaign, – which raised £92k in an bid to keep The Cellar’s doors open – the venue’s owners have confirmed they could not meet the landlord’s final rent offer.
In a statement yesterday evening, The Cellar team said: “We are very sad to inform you that The Cellar closed its doors for the last time on 11th March 2019. After crunching the numbers, a thousand times over, the Hopkins family, who have run the independent music venue, for nearly 40 years, have sadly come to conclusion that they cannot continue.
“After months of negotiations, we would have loved to have been able to take the landlord’s final rent offer, but it came too late. What’s more, even with a vaguely do-able rent agreed, there were no guarantees on the time frame of the building work, which required access to the shop above and various structural considerations. Essentially, the whole process took far longer than we were expecting, and we simply could not keep operating under these conditions.
“We are grateful to the landlords for recognising the cultural importance of the venue, and we hope that we have saved this space from becoming a store room. Moreover, we hope that the space, in some shape or form, will continue as a live music venue. Over 2000 people donated to the Cellar Forever campaign, showing that the people of Oxford really care about what The Cellar stands for, and the values it embodies – independence, individuality and creativity. The amazing £92K that we raised will be returned to everyone’s bank accounts (For *further details on what will happen to some of the rewards that have been donated please read on to the end).
“This is a sad time for Oxford’s city centre, with so many vacant shops and bars all around us, and we hope that our closure will be noted as part of the situation that is eroding our cultural communities. We have tried hard to save our beloved venue, but hopefully its closure will fuel further discussion between landlords and the council to stem further destruction of our beloved city. If given the opportunity, our dream for the future would be to turn The Cellar into a Community Interest Company, a social enterprise whereby any profits would be ploughed back into the company.
“We’d like to thank all of our Cellar Forever supporters from the bottom of our hearts. You guys have kept us going through what has been a very tough two years. We’d also like to thank the brilliant people at Crowdfunder for being so supportive and understanding. Lastly, thank you to the Music Venues Trust who gave us so much valuable advice and guidance. Without them, we certainly wouldn’t have come this far.
“Who knows what the future holds for our beloved, sweaty little Cellar! It’s a unique space, and it’s been a privilege to run this special venue for the past two decades.”
In regards to people’s donations to the Cellar Forever campaign, The Cellar team added: “All money donated will be fully refunded to all of our amazing supporters within days of this announcement.
“In terms of the T-shirts, posters, benefit gigs and names on the wall, sadly as the campaign to save the Cellar was ultimately unsuccessful these rewards will not be created
“However, to leave this on a positive note, we feel that those of you who were excited to have won some of the individual rewards, should not have to miss out on them. We asked Music Venues Trust if they would be up for setting up a Crowdfunder page so that – with special thanks to Philip Selway – we can now proudly donate the Radiohead snare drumto Music Venues Trust to re-host that Crowdfunder raffle. This means that people who entered before (once they have received their refund from the Cellar) can instead re-enter this new raffle to still be in with a chance of winning this amazing reward. Any money generated from this will go to the support the Music Venues Trust with the incredible work they do in campaigning and helping other struggling music venues around the country.
“In addition, the following gifts listed below, have been very kindly kept open by the reward providers listed below, for the registered winners to still claim them. Again, once the reward winners have been refunded from the Cellar campaign, all you have to do is donate the exact same figure to the Music Venues Trust Crowdfunder. Vez from The Cellar Forever Campaign will get in touch with you personally about this, and to arrange how you will receive your reward.”