Dear Mr. Johnson,
I am writing to you with regards to the possibly imminent closure of the 100 Club on Oxford Street owing to repeated increases in rent, business rates and alcohol duty, which was announced in the Evening Standard on Wednesday 22nd September 2010.
It is frequently claimed by yourself and your colleagues that London boasts a rich cultural heritage, but it appears that the powers that be are unwilling to defend this heritage with actions when they are required. Last year, we lost both the London Astoria and the Metro club to Crossrail. These were two well-loved, internationally renowned and historic music venues, the loss of which has dented London’s vibrant music scene.
The 100 Club is nothing like the current influx of newer venues, which seek to make live music a luxury to those with a disposable income, rather than something that is accessible to all. It does not have a stylishly designed interior, there is no VIP area, and it is one of the few remaining live music outlets that have yet to cross the £4 barrier for a pint of beer. It is a venue for everyone, with a diverse range of acts performing there every night to match it.
While there is clearly a need for larger, more clinical venues such as the o2 Arena, it is the smaller ones such as this that provide a platform to developing talent from around the globe. Indeed, it is a major milestone on the ladder to further success. It is an event for a younger artist to grace its legendary stage in the footsteps of The Rolling Stones, The Who, Chuck Berry, The Jam, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The White Stripes and Oasis, amongst a multitude of other world famous stars – many of whom have returned to its stage long after becoming famous to pay tribute to this well loved venue.
Why should it be that within the current financial climate, which has taken its toll on even the larger corporate enterprises, it is deemed acceptable for the rent of the premises of a small independently run business to be hiked up by 45%? It is nothing short of a travesty that our remaining live music venues should need to be subsidised by an outside sponsor in order to survive, despite continuing to be popular and entertaining many thousands of Londoners and visitors from around the globe every year.
The venue itself is steeped in heritage; it is not simply a case of taking the brand and moving it elsewhere. Merely walking through its doors is akin to stepping back into the 1960s, and that feeling of history cannot and will not be relocated to a new venue. The now defunct Marquee Club serves a testament to this.
Therefore I urge you to intervene with the matter, and help this truly magnificent city to keep what is now the oldest, and possibly the finest functioning music venue in the world. To lose it would be a massive blow not only to London’s culture, but that of the United Kingdom and indeed music as a whole.
If you’d like to support the campaign to save this historic venue, you can undersign this letter and send a copy to the Mayor of London yourself by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
You might also wish to tailor and send a copy to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport at email@example.com, or Mark Field, MP for the Cities of London and Westminster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any response I receive from the above will of course be posted on the blog. In the mean time, a Facebook group for the cause has been established here.
I’ve received a reply from the Department of Culture, Media, Olympics and Sport, which you reads as follows:
Dear Mr Presswell
Thank you for your recent email to the Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, about the possible closure of the 100 Club. I have been asked to reply on his behalf.
The Government does of course appreciate the cultural significance of the venue, and its role in the history of popular music. However, you will appreciate that the rent is a commercial matter between the club and its landlords, and is not something in which the Government can intervene. We note that the Club is exploring the possibility of attracting sponsorship or third party funding.
With best wishes
In summary, ‘it’s not our problem.’ This is the department set up to preserve and develop British culture. How apt.