Urgent campaign to save venue for ‘weirdos, cast-offs and struggling artists’

The now closed Matchstick Piehouse in Deptford. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

Deptford’s much-loved Matchstick Piehouse must raise £36,000 to re-open after a pandemic rent debt led to its indefinite closure two weeks ago.

Members of the local community have raised almost £19,000 in two days to save the much-loved venue, which opened in 2018 and became a staple spot for underrepresented groups like the LGBTQI+ and POC communities.

Screenshot of the campaign on crowdfunder.co.uk.

Matchstick Piehouse is a home for theatre, poetry and music, often hosting big names like Grammy Award-winning duo Blue Lab Beats.

“Piehouse has been an unbelievable home for me,” said resident punk artist Liv Winter. “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.”

The insides of the music venue Pic: Matchstick Piehouse Ltd.

The grassroots venue was suddenly closed two weeks ago after the venue’s landlord The Arch Company. sent bailiffs to the Matchstick Piehouse for being late on a payment. Owner and founder Adam Garrett has been warned that the pub will not reopen unless he pays £36,000 in full. The deadline for the payment, previously set for the end of last week, is currently being negotiated.

A spokesperson for The Arch Company said: “We recognise the important contribution Matchstick Piehouse makes to London’s music scene and always work with those in rental arrears to try and reach an agreement so that they can stay. Conversations with the venue have been positive and we hope to reach an agreement which will enable them to remain in their current premises.”

Venue booker Louise Macphail said: “Matchstick Piehouse is a very special place and has been so crucial in the development of many scenes in Southeast London.

“We have a rule not to book any cis straight white male bands and instead give a 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.”

Once bustling with energy, the venue now stands deserted. Pic: Aysha Imtiaz

While Matchstick Piehouse is negotiating with the landlord to extend the payment’s deadline, the owner has launched a fundraiser on Crowdfunder where almost 800 residents have already raised £25,000.

Laurie Milton wrote in the comments: “Matchstick Piehouse is the place. It holds special memories for everyone who’s experienced it!”

Matchstick Piehouse has also planned fundraising events in other venues where recurring artists from the community will perform gigs, starting with a show on December 1 at the George Tavern in Stepney and the Colour Factory in Hackney Wick, with all profits going to saving the pub. The next gigs will be this Wednesday and Thursday at the Ivy House in Nunhead.

Lewisham-based video editor and photographer Sandy Connell said: “Matchstick Piehouse is one of the places where the weirdos, cast-offs, struggling artists and adventurous art-lovers can find their people. Because it puts creativity, community and inclusion before anything else, it is where I felt safe to find my people.”

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