The Westgarth Social Club is one of Teesside’s most popular independent music venues. Across its three stages, the Westgarth has hosted acts such as James Bay, Public Service Broadcasting, Wolf Alice, Pete Wylie, The Vaccines, Edwyn Collins, TV Smith, and First Aid Kit.
Many of you will know Steve, the Steward of the Westgarth, who is the heart and soul of the venue. He works incredibly hard to look after the club members, as well as the promoters, bands, and audiences who have adopted the venue as a community hub for local, national and even international acts to visit as they tour the country.
We reached out to Steve, who said:
“The Westgarth means so much to so many. Firstly, the club members, some of whom have been using the club for more than 50 years. And more recently, for the last 12 years or so, as a live music venue used by music goers from a wide range of different musical tastes. It has become an important hub for local artists to hone their craft, whether it be music, comedy, poetry, or anything else.”
We also spoke to Andy Carr, of local promoters The Kids are Solid Gold, who added:
“Westgarth Social Club is Middlesbrough's primary venue for seeing the best upcoming regional, national and international acts and, as such, it is an integral part of the UK's live music infrastructure - its importance to both the town and the live music industry as a whole should not be understated. The venue's recent history is up there with the best of them and it is much loved by fans and acts alike. Westgarth shows really are very special.”
Like so many places, the Westgarth has been unable to open its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Closed since the first national lockdown in March, they’ve been unable to find a way of re-opening which would follow government guidance and ensure the absolute safety of its members and of local gig-goers.
As we all look forward to finally returning to the Westgarth, we also have our sights firmly on what gigs might look like over the next 12 months.
What will gigs be like in 2021? Based on the last 9 months, these shows might need to happen under safety measures, with restrictions on crowd numbers or the need for particular seating arrangements.
Unfortunately, as through the first and second waves of coronavirus, if local promoters can’t put on viable events – places like the Westgarth will struggle to reopen.
But with your support, we’re hoping to form a live music fund to support the safe and sustainable return of live music and events to the club. No donations will go to Spooker Rekkids or towards the running costs of the club, with the fund only to be used by local promoters. This could be to subsidise ticket prices; to help towards the cost of sound engineers; or to cover the shortfall in ticket sales due to potential crowd-limits.
We want to ensure that, whatever happens next, bands, promoters, music lovers and the whole community are supported and have a place to safely enjoy and participate in live music and events.
Our initial target is to raise £3000, which we have calculated could support between 15-20 gigs in 2021. If we reach that goal, there are plans to expand this target to £4000 for around 20-25 gigs, and £5000 for 25-30 gigs. Basically, the more we raise, the more gigs we can help to put on!
We’re aware this is an incredibly tough time for people but if you can offer a donation, we have some wonderful rewards merchandise kindly provided by Teesside’s finest promoters and musical talent. Donations with rewards start from just £5, but you can donate any amount you want!
Donations to this fund will help massively in keeping the Westgarth alive, and ensuring promoters continue to bring the best local, national and international acts to Teesside.
It’s a weird time, but we’re hopeful for the future and can’t wait to welcome you all safely back soon.
Siobhan, Jon, Rach, Clare, Ben, Paul, Rick, Dan, Az: The Spooker Team