A famous independent London music venue that has hosted acts including Arctic Monkeys, The Chemical Brothers, Adele and Fatboy Slim is campaigning to raise £95,000 in a fight for survival.
The Social, a 250-capacity venue in Little Portland Street, in London’s West End, is facing closure and the founders say they need to come up with the cash within two weeks to stay open.
Rising rents and an offer to the building’s leaseholder from a cocktail and wine bar chain “have put The Social under very serious threat”, they said in a statement on their website.
Supporters have already pledged more than £35,000 to a crowdfunding site within a day of it going live, with big-name acts urging people to get behind the campaign on social media.
The Social is one of just a handful of independent music venues left standing in the heart of the city.
Speaking to Sky News, co-founder and partner Robin Turner said: “We wanted to try ways of doing it privately but nothing worked, so we decided on crowdfunding.
“We’ve had a pretty incredible response already and it shows people still care.
“I can be incredibly passionate about this space as it means a lot to me. I’ve seen some insane gigs over the years, from The Chemical Brothers to Beck to Super Furry Animals – acts that shouldn’t have been playing in a venue this small.
“But putting that aside, what we’re doing is important in the West End. I’ve been looking back at the venues that used to be here – the Astoria, LA2, Plastic People, the Metro, Turnmills – and now I believe it’s just us, The 100 Club and Ronnie Scott’s left.
“It’s not just London, of course, it’s happening everywhere.
“The venues that have closed haven’t been replaced. We wouldn’t be replaced. These are culturally important venues.”
Ed Simons, from The Chemical Brothers, is among those urging people to get behind the campaign on Twitter, saying: “One of the last remaining independent social, dancing, live music venues left in London. Developers want it for something less vital.”
Fatboy Slim tweeted: “So many friends made, so much good music, so much mischief, so much love. How can we let it slip away?”
Glastonbury founder Emily Eavis is also supporting the crowdfunding bid.
“Had so many good times at @TheSocialLondon over the years, and used to put on the Holy Cow nights there. Be a disaster for the West End if it shuts. Please do support them if you can,” she said on Twitter.
The Manic Street Preachers are also spreading the word on social media, and The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess has tweeted a link to the campaign, simply saying: “Stop this anti-social behaviour.”
Writer and author Caitlin Moran said: “If you’ve ever had an amazing night (beats, booze, sex, vomiting, joy) at The Social, it needs you now. Crowdfunder to buy its lease, or it’s wine-barred and dead.”
Mr Turner says there is no animosity towards the leaseholder, who the founders of the venue have worked with for years.
He is as hopeful as anyone that they can raise the cash, Mr Turner said.
A City Hall spokesperson said that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had been in touch.
“Venues like The Social are a vital part of London’s culture and night life – but it’s no secret that rising rates, rents and increased development have been putting real pressure on venues,” a statement said.
It said that while Mr Khan has “no powers over commercial issues” he and his team have supported more than 350 spaces at risk of closure.
“After a decade of decline, the number of grassroots music venues has remained stable but more work needs to be done to ensure every Londoner can enjoy a thriving nightlife.”
The Social evolved out of the Heavenly Sunday Social club nights that ran in various venues between 1994 and 1999.
Mr Turner and the venue’s other founders were planning to celebrate its 20th anniversary as a venue this year, and are promising to put on “the biggest small festival in the world” if they can raise the cash to save it.