As one of London’s favourite establishments, Nambucca, is set to close this month, there is a growing call for music venues to have the chance own their own buildings instead of being the property of individual landlords. The Nambucca will close on May 14th, having hosted such luminaries as The Libertines, Florence + The Machine, Frank Turner and Wolf Alice on the stages.
The Music Venue Trust released a statement regarding some of the issues facing the UK’s grassroots gig spaces, claiming that although gentrification, development and the inevitable rise of rent demands has made life trickier, ultimately it stems down to the fact that ownership is the key problem. Nambucca’s general manager Giles Horne gave an interview to NME, and agreed that ownership is one of the key factors.
“I don’t blame the pub companies that own Nambucca,” he said of the upcoming closure. “They’re running a business and want to make as much money as they can. We need to buy these venues back from these pub companies because they don’t care where they’re getting their money from – they just want a pub open at 10 am and to be churning beer out all day. That makes sense as a business model, but it makes it very difficult for music venues that are trying to operate.”
Horne did make the assertion that following the Covid-19 pandemic, he doubted the venue would ever re-open, but has espoused his relief at the venue’s ability to re-open after a dormant period during the pandemic. In a note that was more hopeful, Horne said that he thinks venues will figure out a way to survive in the future, stating that there are too many young people out there who will let the industry die an untimely death. He emphasised the importance of keeping the tradition alive.
And yet there’s a sadness to the interview, as Horne recalled the phone calls he received from Frank Turner, commiserating about the close of the Nambucca club. Horne says he wishes someone buys the place, and keep it as a venue, in the hope that future bands can perform there.