"With no help from the government and after having talks with the landladies they are refusing to reduce the rent until the virus is dealt with," owner Kieran Canavan said.
Owner Kieran Canavan announced on Facebook Thursday evening that the Rye Lane venue would close its doors for the last time on Friday, September 25th, at 10 PM, referencing the new Covid-19-related curfew on bars, pubs and restaurants. "With no help from the government and after having talks with the landladies they are refusing to reduce the rent until the virus is dealt with," wrote Canavan, who took over the venue in 2011 and made it a nightlife destination. "I cannot afford to pay three months rent in advance in this situation. After paying my rent every quarter on time for the past ten years, this is a very hard pill to swallow, but such is life."
"As you know we are a nighttime club and only get busy after 10 PM—there is no way I can survive," he added. Canavan's hosted a mix of student events and club nights, and most notably was the first home of local party and eventual label Rhythm Section—read founder Bradley Zero's tribute to the venue here.
As the closure news was shared yesterday evening, it's clear Canavan's mention of "no help from the government" is referencing chancellor Rishi Sunak's Thursday announcement about the UK government's new "jobs support scheme" as its furlough and self-employed schemes come to an end next month. Sunak says the next support phase, which hinges on the government covering 22 percent of wages for workers who fulfil one-third of their contracted hours over six months, is aimed at retaining what he calls "viable jobs" in the UK.
"We need to create new opportunities and allow the economy to move forward and that means supporting people to be in viable jobs which provide genuine security," Sunak said Thursday. When pressed on what is a "viable job," Sunak said, "It's not for me to sit here and make pronouncements upon exactly what job is viable or not, but what we do need to do is evolve our support now that we're through the acute phase of the crisis... I believe it is right thing to do to concentrate that support on jobs that have a genuine prospect, of being viable and providing long-term security for those employees."
The creative nighttime industries, which have largely been unable to operate since March as government pandemic regulations have not allowed nightclubs, venues and live music spaces to reopen without major changes, are denouncing the government's lack of extended support. Night Czar Amy Lamé tweeted the new scheme "does not go far enough" to support the nighttime economy. "Ongoing support for jobs is welcome, but it will not be enough to save businesses in London's retail, hospitality, leisure and cultural sectors," she said. "Many of these businesses can't afford to keep people on even part-time, with London's nightclubs, theatres and music venues that operate late at night unable to reopen at all." Lamé pledged she and mayor Sadiq Khan will "continue to press the government for urgent sector specific support."
The Chancellor @RishiSunak's announcement today does not go far enough to support valued jobs in London's struggling night time economy. @SadiqKhan and I will continue to press the Government for urgent sector specific support to help save businesses and livelihoods in #London. pic.twitter.com/8aergaZa9s— Amy Lamé (london.gov.uk/coronavirus) (@amylame) September 24, 2020
Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) chief executive Michael Kill also decried Sunak's scheme in an op-ed for iNews, saying the chancellor has "completely exile[d] the entire nighttime sector." "The current new measures clearly only consider businesses that are open and operating either fully or at limited capacity," he wrote. "What use are tax measures and extended support for working staff, when you are not allowed to open?"
Kill also urged the government to reconsider the 10 PM curfew: "Night-time economy businesses have also been unfairly targeted by the new 10 PM curfew, which we believe has no scientific basis and will prevent businesses from rebuilding the necessary revenue to stay afloat." Read the full opinion piece here.
In July, the government announced a one-off £1.57 billion relief package for the arts and cultural sectors, though it wasn't until the #LetUsDance campaign by the nightlife industry and community that it was clear clubs and festivals would be eligible for grants. Arts Council England then led the application process for £500 million of the grant set aside for cultural organisations. Venues that received the aid included Corsica Studios, EartH, FOLD, Soup Kitchen and The Deaf Institute.
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Tonight the Pool Hall opens it's doors for the last time. This humble spot on Rye Lane provided a platform for us to build something special from the ground up. From the early days bringing my Dad's soundystem down from Leeds, installing the red neon and trolleying 1210s and a mixer back and forth every other week, Canavan's played a crucial role in the Rhythm Section Story. It was here that we steadily built a core group of regular dancers and Dj's and slowly but surely spread the message worldwide. From the first ever show with the Fat White Family to the early days with Myles, Adrian and Jason... countless international debuts and cameos from the likes of Omar S and Josh Hartnett ( remember that!) this place has seen a lot! It was this late night pool hall where I cut my teeth as a resident on the pool-table-cum-DJ-booth and it was these parties where I got to welcome Anu, Morell, Emily and Mali into the fold too... Operating as a promoter in Canavan's wasn't without it's challenges - It's fair to say everyone has a story to tell about working with Kieran, but despite this old-school approach, him and the team nurtured something that is irreplaceable ; a venue for the whole community, whose loss will leave a big gap in the heart of Peckham. It's a sad reflection of the times that his wonderfully accidental club-space was destined to be short lived. Draconian council rules, rising rents and new developments had been threatening it's closure for years - but the final nail in the coffin was this pandemic. It breaks my hear to know there'll be many more casualties without swift intervention... So here's a toast to this one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-generation institution that, for all it's idiosyncrasies- made an indelible mark on SE London musical history. To Canavan's 🍻 🎱 📸 - @vickygrout for @mixmag 2017