Alchemy music venue ‘in imminent danger’, says Trust

Alchemy, the Jamaican bar and restaurant on St George’s Walk in the town centre, is in imminent danger of permanent closure because of lost business due to the covid-19 lockdowns, according to the Music Venue Trust.

In pre-covid times, Alchemy had customers lining up around the block to get in on their big music nights

The Music Venue Trust represents hundreds of grassroots music venues and the new phase of its successful #saveourvenues campaign will be focused on securing the future of venues, like Alchemy, who were ineligible to receive funding from the government-backed Cultural Recovery Fund.

The Music Venue Trust says that these venues “play a crucial role in the development of British music, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills”, as well as playing a vital role in the cultural and economic vibrancy of an area.

Alchemy is one of 30 venues rated as “Red” on the Music Venue Trust’s traffic light campaign, which lists more than 300 venues at risk of closure (“Amber”) or in imminent danger if they don’t receive assistance between now and March 31 next year.

“We have had varied live performances of many genres of music including a lot of reggae and have been blessed with appearances from Marcia Griffith, Freddie McGregor and Morgan Heritage,” said Debbie Ballard, the venue owner at Alchemy.

“In the six years Alchemy has been in Croydon we have become a valued venue to both the black and wider community. We are not just another commercial venue, because as well as our live music events and club nights we have a studio that we use to encourage young artists to come and use and then host open mic nights for them.

“It has been very hard to source any form of grant funding despite numerous phone calls and applications to the culture recovery fund amongst others. We are very grateful that the Music Venue Trust has stepped in and made us one of the 30 Red Zone venues they are fund-raising for.”

Alchemy’s live music nights attracted some top stars and large audiences

A range of targeted activity under the #saveourvenues banner has been announced, based around a combined effort by audiences, communities and councils. The Music Venue Trust is urging everyone who cares about these venues to write to their MP, council and charities to demand action to prevent them being closed for good.

Mark Davyd, the CEO of Music Venue Trust, said, “What the #saveourvenues campaign has achieved during the last 8 months is truly remarkable. Thanks to the efforts of music fans, local communities and the wider music sector we have raised over £3million in donations and have unlocked more than £80million in government assistance to help stave-off the imminent closure of over 400 grassroots music venues.

“We are now focusing exclusively on those 30 remaining venues which face immediate permanent closure. If people want these local venues to still be there when this is over there is a very clear call to action: choose a venue, get donating, get writing, get calling, get organised. Save them all. Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

By visiting a single landing page at people can choose an individual venue to donate to. If an individual target is reached by a particular venue, then surplus donations will go towards supporting other venues in crisis.

As part of these crowdfunding efforts there will also be a new range of merchandise exclusively available to support this campaign and available for delivery by Christmas. Every item bought directly supports a venue, with the Trust paying the costs of printing, packing and delivery.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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