Save The Polar Bear

by Jonnie Mason in Hull, England, United Kingdom

Save The Polar Bear
We did it
On 1st December 2020 we successfully raised £19,308 with 833 supporters in 118 days

We, the previous boots on the ground (the staff!), want to reopen The Polar Bear as a Community Interest Company.

by Jonnie Mason in Hull, England, United Kingdom

 New stretch target

Another £40000 would mean we can make the necessary alterations to the building in order for it to be 'pandemic-friendly', bring the cultural office spaces into use and solidify the long-term future this iconic and much loved venue!

In July we received the news that The Polar Bear would be closing its doors.

The parent company had gone into administration, and as such the venue would be put out to pasture.

Ever since we heard the news we have being working together to secure the future of The Polar Bear.

That's why we're here. We need your support to help save the Polar Bear!

Who Are We?

We are the same people who ran the venue; everyone associated with this project has worked pretty much their entire working life in one of Hull's iconic venues. Mark Hall, the man responsible for the success of The Welly, Fruit and Lamp, and for the elevation of The Polar Bear from pub to venue, is heading up the team.

We have Daniel Mawer, promoter not just for the venues but also for the Humber Street Sesh festival, and the person who is actually responsible for keeping the weekly Sesh running.

We've Paul Sargeson, music teacher, technician, chronically grumpy and ridiculously talented, involved. Rose Lavery, the woman who, for the past decade, has ran the social media pages and ticketing side of things, is onboard.

Finally we have Jonnie Mason, the venue manager of the Polar Bear on board. This is primarily because he knows where all the light switches are.


These people have teamed up to save the Polar Bear because they have a vision of the venue that was unfortunately constrained and suffocated by previous properties. There is a genuine passion and love for The Polar Bear as it is, but even more so for what these people want it to become.

What Do We Want?

We want to run The Polar Bear for the people of Hull. We don't want to send our revenue down south to have it wasted on inflated salaries or ridiculous rent. We want to be able to use the space and equipment we have to elevate local musicians, we don't want to be told that a band practice will cause 'capital depreciation'.


We want rid of the corporate talk, we want The Polar Bear to become a CIC.

A CIC is a type of company which exists to benefit the local community and social causes. It is in stark contrast to a Public Company (whether it be PLC, LLC etc) which exists to make a profit for its shareholders/owners.

What Would a CIC Polar Bear Do?

In April of this year an hour long presentation was given which bemoaned the current operating practices of the Polar Bear, its wasted potential and how short term profit driven motivations were harming the longevity of the venue itself. We all believe that The Polar Bear was not, and never will be, just a revenue stream; it means more to the people who work there, and it means more to the people who drink and play there.

In short, The Polar Bear would provide the local community with a high quality venue that exists to encourage the local scene; no matter what that scene is.

No rental fees for local bookers just trying to dip their toes into the music scene. No hidden fees for local artists who want a venue to launch their new EP from. No obfuscation or hidden intentions.

Rooms that were previously used to store the debris of a national company are now empty and free; we want these empty rooms to be used by the community. Workshops, practice rooms, writers labs; whatever the people need space for, we will provide it. A true cultural and community hub.


Non-partisan involvement in the local scene; without any obligations to make a profit we only need to worry about breaking even (which we did last year, despite all the 'extra' costs). This means no weird politics, no fiscal competition for other venues; just cooperation.

We will finally be able to diversify; for too long we were pushed to focus on what we did well and what was profitable. That thing was of course opening our doors until 02:00am and letting everyone go wild. We will still be doing that of course (seriously, bring back Saturday nights at PB), but we can also do things that we were blocked from doing previously.

Vintage clothing-swaps, record store days, independents day; we can take up the offers of those who came to us with ideas that we couldn't agree to. We can do it all, and more.

Alright, What Do We Need From You?

Whatever you can afford to donate. We need you to tell your friends, tell your family and tell your binman.

We have successfully raised the first £15,000 needed to secure the keys and get us into a position to sign a lease with the landlord!

Now we need to raise a further £40,000 to get the Bear through the next six months of COVID uncertainty, make alterations to the building to make it 'pandemic-friendly' and therefore make the business sustainable for the long-term future of the venue. The team has the full support of key strategic partners; Hull City Council, City Arts Unit, local MPs and the Music Venue Trust


The more people who know, the more word gets around, the better our chances will be. Maybe Fat Boy Slim will drop by to donate a tenner, who knows? Tim Burgess, front man of The Charlatans has already pledged to appear at the venue for a fundraising show (what a hero!)

All we know is that we really, really believe in the social good that The Polar Bear could create for the community.

We're not in this for a salary, we never were.

But I Don't Have Money To Spare..

That's totally okay, truth be told, we're not comfortable asking for it. You don't need to donate to help us out. Hull isn't, and never really was, a city full of rich kids. That's why we love it. Talk to your friends about it, tell your parents and your grandparents and especially tell Peter Levy.

Share the story on the internet. Tell total strangers about it. You never know who might be able to help out.

If you're passionate about live music, if you have experience helping the community; if you're a member of a charity or community organisation. Basically if you think that you can, in any way shape or form, help us, then contact us via our facebook page.


We ask project owners to honour their rewards wherever possible but please note that all pledges are donations and there is no guarantee that you will receive any rewards from the project owner. Please see our Terms of Use for more information regarding rewards for pledges.


This project offers rewards in return for your donation. Please select a reward below.

£100 or more

6 of 8 claimed

Name a cubicle!

We have 8 cubicles in the Bear, two in the gents and 6 in the ladies. Spend £100 (a bit more than a penny!) and you'll get your very own named toilet cubicle.... So quit stalling and getting donating!

£5 or more

Add A Drink To The Tab

Honestly you do not even want to know how ridiculous the welcome back party will be.

£20 or more

Message In Time

In the unlikely event that I get full reign over the interior of The Polar Bear again I will be dedicating the main pool room wall to your messages. I'll use a basic stencil to apply them. Honestly, if it means something to you or if its just a funny word, I think it'd be something nice to look at.

£20 or more

A Hideously Tacky 'Thank You' Trophy

Yes, we do condone and support participation trophies.

£500 or more

0 of 4 claimed

I'm the DJ, I'll play what I want!

Have you ever thought "this guy sucks.... I could do much better!" Then here's your chance to prove it. Donate £500 and you can be the DJ at your very own Polar Bear event. We promise not think "this guys sucks!"

£1,000 or more

0 of 1 claimed

Spend The Night With The Polar Bear Statue

He doesn't have a driving license so please only go for this option if you live locally/own a van.

£10 or more

80 of 80 claimed

Polaroid Picture (Shake It)

Daniel has a Polaroid camera, and I, for some reason, have a lot of film. I always wanted to pin up Polaroid pictures of my colleagues and my regulars behind the bar. We just never managed to sell all those Skint Northerner t-shirts.

£100 or more

3 of 3 claimed

Name Our House Lager/Cider/Bitter

Polar Beer seems popular, but also feels low effort.

£250 or more

4 of 4 claimed

Name A Booth

Those big semi-circular seats? They're actually listed. I know right. Crazy.They're older than your grandmother. Thankfully I'm not going to etch your chosen name into the woodwork. Cheesy brass plaque though?

Got an idea like this?

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