Thousands of people have signed a petition against the closure of a venue that is ‘the heart’ of Oxford’s music scene.
The landlord of The Cellar off Cornmarket Street wants to redevelop the site, but musicians say the closure, which could happen early next year, would be devastating to the Oxford ‘incredible’ music repertoire.
More than 13,000 petitioners are fighting to save the city’s ‘best and only underground’ music venue, which could be closed when retailer Lush, which sub-lets the basement for the venue, vacates its shop to move to the new Westgate.
The alleyway venue has provided a platform for bands such as Reading Festival headliners Foals, who said playing at The Cellar helped them on the road to international success, and Mercury music prize nominees Glass Animals, who have also performed there.
But over 40 years of live music could soon come to an end.
The Cellar and the building above it are both owned by the charities St Michael’s and All Saints, who have submitted a planning application to convert the basement into more retail space.
The charities said in a statement they want to raise money for good causes and don’t want to cause unnecessary upset to people who enjoy attending the venue.
Speaking about the potential closure of the ‘vital grassroots venue’, Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust said: “This planning application should be withdrawn by St Michael’s and All Saints and they should work with The Cellar as to how the space can best be used to maximise the benefits to the charity. If [they] will not withdraw the application, Oxford City Council must act to protect The Cellar and their own cultural strategy.”
The Cellar’s manager Tim Hopkins said: “We appreciate the pressures that may be felt by St Michael’s and All Saints’ Charities, but the aims of the charity are not furthered by losing such a vital local space. We would welcome the opportunity to work with [them] to look at an alternative way to increase their income, if this is their aim.”
Supporters have also organised a ‘Save the Cellar’ event at the venue in December.
To sign the petition, visit https://tinyurl.com/yca49t4b.
To comment on the application, visit https://tinyurl.com/y9twwm4f.