Sadiq Khan was elected Mayor of London on the back of a campaign that promised in fair part to be all things to everyone. He would be pro-venues and pro-arts, but also pro-business and pro-growth. As anyone who has witnessed the recent steamrolling of numerous iconic London venues knows (Earls Court/ Plastic People/ Joiners Arms/ Coronet/ etc), the two sides rarely sit well together.
So it's with some interest we note that the new mayors office has- according to the Islington Tribune - been in contact with staff at Finsbury Park's Silver Bullet venue to see if they can help out in the fight to keep the space as a meaningful live music and DJ venue. The Silver Bullet has recently had it's lease bought up by the Goodman group- a group known largely for owning a series of 'upmarket' bars called Burger & Lobster. As you might imagine, they're heavy on squeezing quids from braying suits, not so big on supporting innovative, underground music- something the venue has been doing with style.
Understandably, staff at the Bullet, which has a 4am license and has bought a new lease of life to an otherwise bleak area of London, don't feel that the new lease holders have any interest in continuing their work. Goodman group operations manager David Strauss has tried to assuage fears with a slightly bizarre response to press;
“I’m a Heiniken drinker and I get my fish and chips from the Quality Fish Bar. I’ve been drinking in Finsbury Park since 1983 and I get upset when places I go to close."
“I am genuinely upset if The Silver Bullet closes for the people that work there.”
After we'd finished LOLing over Strauss believing that 'being a Heineken drinker' has any sort of relevance to the topic at hand (yeah! I drink pisswater! Cut me and I bleed Camden!), we have to wonder what kind of lunatic discusses getting 'genuinely upset' over actions that he is clearly in charge of? If you don't want the place to close, mate, ermm, don't close it... As things stand, he plans to keep music (of some description) in the venue, but has no interest in maintaining a 7 days a week program. In response The Silver Bullet are trying to raise funds to buy back the lease to the venue, with events manager Hayley Squires telling the Tribune
“We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into this place. We’re in a great location. We are profitable and with the 24-hour tube coming in we could expand even further. This is a buzzing cultural hub and we are helping to expand music scenes.”
A statement from the Silver Bullet also noted:
“This is not just about corporate greed, it’s about closing down the meeting places of people with ideas, intelligence, diversity and non-conformist attitudes. DIY music venues are about non-conformity. They’re for passion, for culture, for art, and for good times. And for that, we shouldn’t stop fighting.”
Now the mayor's office has shown they are aware of the situation, we await to see what kind of mayor Khan will be- whilst we appreciate there is only so much he can do in this case, it would be wonderful to see the trend of loved venues being turned into soulless nothings reversed - and what better place to start it than here? Will he actually prove to have any clout, or were the election pledges just so much Nick-Clegging? Time will tell.