Skip to main content

Home Music Music News

Deptford community venue Matchstick Piehouse launches crowdfund after threat of closure

The venue have been told to pay £36,000 to their landlord this week or be forced to close their doors. They talk to Rolling Stone UK about how fans can help.

By Will Richards

Matchstick Piehouse
Matchstick Piehouse (Picture: Press)

Deptford-based community venue and arts space Matchstick Piehouse have launched a crowdfund campaign after being threatened with closure by landlords.

The venue, which opened in 2018, is most famous for hosting weekly improv jazz nights with local collective Steam Down, and also put on poetry and folk nights as well as becoming a hub for the local punk scene.

At the start of the week, they revealed to fans online that they were being forced by landlords to pay £36,000 by the end of this week or be forced to close. A crowdfunder page was then launched, which reached £11,000 within 48 hours and now sits at over £19,000 at the time of writing.

On the crowdfunder page, the venue said: “We were set up and built totally by volunteers with the vision of providing a home for art which isn’t based on commercialism, a business which respects their staff, and a space which welcomes people with all ranges of ability needs who may have felt excluded from mainstream venues. Our goal is maximum empowerment for everyone that we engage with.”

“Over the last 5 years, we’ve hosted hundreds of events, introduced thousands of people, and made some pretty weird memories along the way. We’ve danced, laughed, and watched a beautiful community blossom from the power of mutual respect.”

Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, the venue’s co-founder Adam Gerrett discussed the predicament the venue find themselves in, and how he had to face bailiffs entering the building this week.

“We’ve had rent arrears that have accrued over time post-COVID that we’ve tried to shake successfully, and we’ve been on a payment plan. This year, a payment was made late, and that late payment triggered an escalation from the landlord to sell the total amounts of debts to bailiffs without notifying us.

“I had a bunch of bailiffs turn up [at the venue], and we remained closed for eight days while I tried to get hold of the landlords to see what was going on. They demanded that we pay the full amount of £36,000 with three working days notice.”

Of the support they have received, Gerrett added: “We’ve been speaking to the Music Venue Trust, and honestly it’s the best possible thing that the music industry can have at the moment. They recommended getting a fundraiser up as soon as possible so that as we argue with the landlord, which is still going on, the fundraiser is running. The main thing you win in an argument against this giant corporation is not being let off the fees or the fees being reduced – it’s about being given more time.”

Gerrett added: “If we’d had a conversation where [the landlord] said, ‘We’re totally unhappy with the timeline of this and it needs to get solved, you have two months to solve it’, then we could have done this over two months whilst remaining open. The problem is, they escalated privately, which then stopped us from trading. When the bailiffs visited, I closed the building and managed to stop them from taking everything.”

Matchstick Piehouse
Matchstick Piehouse (Picture: Press)

Discussing what may happen in the next few days, Gerrett said: “£36k in three days is not possible for anyone other than Jay Z. The union are lobbying and organising to try and [extend it] to three weeks, and then it’s a realistic thing. I think they’ll be open to that. Let’s make the assumption that they are an organisation that is about making money and profit for its shareholders, like most of the businesses in the country and in the world. If they’re any good at their job, then they will prioritise making money.

“If they don’t give us the extra time, they will lose a lot of money, and they will get a lot of bad publicity,” he added, “so I can’t see why they will not do it. They’re just doing it slowly and posturing, much to our negative experience and possible survival. But the survival of the community is not what’s high up on the agenda it seems.”

On Wednesday evening, the venue then revealed via Instagram that they have had their deadline to pay the required money extended beyond the deadline of Thursday (November 30), but have no confirmation of when the new deadline will be.

“Until we have that confirmation in writing we need to continue to fundraise and stay energised,” they wrote. “We have been absolutely blown away by the support so far and are beyond grateful.”

“Matchstick Piehouse is one of our favourite places to go watch music in London,” punk band Goat Girl said in a statement of the venue’s importance. “We’ve always felt really welcomed in the space, lots of familiar faces looking out for one another trying to create a special and accessible night where everyone can enjoy themselves. We’ve seen some incredible performers and have played many a sweaty show and can’t really imagine what DIY music in south east London would look like without it!”

Resident artist Liv Wynter added: “As an artist dedicated to working hard to reach audiences, Matchstick Piehouse has been an unbelievable home for me. A space that not just welcomes but celebrates new and innovative ideas, experimentation, and community building like this cannot disappear – there is no space achieving even close to what the piehouse does in terms of fostering radical work.”

Of what makes Matchstick Piehouse a special and irreplaceable space in south east London’s musical community, venue booker Louise Macphail said: “We have a rule not to book any cis straight white male bands and instead give platform to underrepresented groups. This makes the Piehouse an invaluable asset to the London music and nightlife scene. It’s a home to so many people and it would be devastating for it to be shut down.”

In order to help reach their crowdfunder target, the venue are hosting four special fundraising shows next week, with all profits going towards the fight to save the venue. You can find full details of them below, along with links to buy tickets..

You can support the Save The Piehouse crowdfunder here.

Matchstick Piehouse

Friday December 1 @ the George Tavern, London | Tickets on sale here | £20
Artists TBA

Friday December 1 @ the Colour Factory, London | Tickets on sale here | £20
Amor Ante, UrlAmelia, Ri Mistry (Social Records Society), Queer House Party

Wednesday December 6 @ the Ivy House, London | Tickets on sale here | £20
Secret Headliner TBA, Dean Rodney Junior & The Cowboys, Ten Minute Tales, Lobby, Lemon Lounge (DJ), Porij (DJ). 

Thursday December 7 @ the Ivy House, London | Tickets on Sale here | £20
Secret Headliner TBA, Special Guests TBA, Rosie Alena, Emma Warren (DJ & Dance Your Way Home Talk), PVA (DJ).