South London venue Matchstick Piehouse landlord dispute ends without settlement, plans to become workers co-op

South London venue Matchstick Piehouse landlord dispute ends without settlement, plans to become workers co-op

The team behind South London arts venue Matchstick Piehouse is looking to form a workers co-operative after they’ve been unable to resolve a rent dispute with their landlord

The Deptford crew announced the failure to reach a “plausible settlement” with their landlord yesterday, 4th January, on their crowdfunding campaign, launched in November to raise the £35,000 ultimatum the landlord set over a late rent payment. As a result, the team will be shutting down the fundraiser and refunding the nearly £33,000 raised. 

“Contributing to our decision is the impact that wider trading conditions are having on the venue”, the Matchstick Piehouse organisers wrote. “These factors include increased costs and decreasing spend per head which has had a prolonged effect on the day-to-day operations of Matchstick Piehouse and its team. All of these factors together have led us to take this very difficult decision.”

The crew’s next efforts to retain their space are to form a workers co-op and start a new fundraiser to support them in acquiring the lease and operating the venue. The new group (“a legally separate entity”) is made up of former Matchstick Piehouse staff and community members, including venue resident Liv Wynter, with co-op organisation input from Sister Midnight founder Lenny Watson.

“We believe strongly that this structure represents the political beliefs and heart of the venue”, they wrote on the new Crowdfunder campaign. “…We are starting a new venue with the same ethics and cultural aims.”

The co-op has set a fundraising target of £35,000, which will “cover wages, equipment and getting back on our feet”. 

Matchstick Piehouse opened in 2018 in the railway arches as a not-for-profit music venue and art space. It has hosted a mix of live music performances, workshops, theatre productions, poetry readings, meet-ups and other community-focused events.

Learn more about the co-op’s project and support the fundraiser here.

Last August, a group of Dublin music collectives and organisations teamed up to open a new co-operative DIY venue in Glasnevin.

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