Who are we?
A lot of people will know us only for the parties we throw on Friday and Saturday nights, just as many people will only know us from the free Culture, Power, Politics seminar that we host with AntiUniversity. Again, a large sector of the community will have been to live gigs, and not know us for anything else. As a bar and venue, we are an integral part of the cultural landscape of Hackney, and are always there for people to connect with one another, celebrate, dance, learn and grow.
We've been open since 2011, and been a London Living Wage employer since day one. When we opened our guiding motto was that we would be egalitarian and fun. In practice that has meant that we have always been inclusive, and always tried to keep prices as low as possible and entry free.
We have always been there, open, and free to enter. We've seen hundreds of DJs and bands pass through our doors, and many have gone on to become hugely popular, and if you've been through the bar you've probably seen them yourselves for free. We are asking you now to consider donating a "back in the day cover-charge", which will help us in the future.
Why we're asking for your help.
The COVID19 pandemic took us by surprise just as much as anyone else.
We have grown a strong business over the years, we always try to be at the forefront of wage and gender equality, and have built a really sustainable business that has solid values built in.
We have a strong base and a loyal crowd, and we had a tonne of insurance in place for the worst case scenario... or so we thought. We are now in a position where we have been closed for six weeks, our insurers will not cover any of our fixed costs, and our landlords are yet to agree to a sustainable compromise on our rent.
We are grateful for the wage support from the government, but we have no idea how long this will last. At the moment the scheme runs only to the end of June, however the government has confirmed that hospitality will be among the last to come out of lockdown. Realistically it may be a very very long time before we are able to re-open at full capacity again.
What will we do with any money we raise?
We are raising money today for our future. We will use any money raised in order to fund shortfalls in our fixed costs while we're closed, and to make sure we have a fund for our staff to fall back on over the coming months. Sales and donations now will help us to re-open our doors again once we are able to, and will help support us through any periods of reduced capacity opening.
If we are able to meet our target, it will allow us to top up our staff wages from the 80% that the government is covering at the moment.
Any surplus in direct donations that we do not need to use ourselves will be donated to the Save Ridley Road Fund which is fighting development and gentrification in Ridley Road that is not in the interests of the community.
We understand that many of you are also in a precarious financial situation. Please only purchase or donate if you can afford to do so.
We can't wait until we can see you all on the dance-floor once more.