On Tuesday, September 29, London mayor Sadiq Khan announced that he has approved £128,500 in sector-specific grants for LGBTQ+ businesses in the city, which will help to save many of the venues hardest hit by the pandemic. Included in the fund is £14,000 for the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern, which hosts BEEFMINCE, one of the most popular Bear events in the city of London. The grant also includes £15,000 for The Glory and £10,000 for the Dalston Superstore.
Like many other cities around the world, London’s LGBTQ+ venues have already been facing a rising tide of rent increases and redevelopment efforts prior to the pandemic. Months of closure and social distancing restrictions have even further hammered many businesses across the LGBTQ+ sector.
West Five Bar in Ealing is also receiving £18,000 under the scheme. Owner, Bal Sidhu, thanked the mayor for the “lifeline”, stating that, “LGBT+ venues are very important to provide a venue open to all yet importantly remain a safe haven for members of the LGBT+ community.”
He goes on to say, “The entertainment industry has been struggling with more and more venues closing down or being replaced with residential units which could lead to certain arts and niche cabaret being lost in the UK, which would be a real shame.”
Sidhu said the grants have “helped us create a buffer to be able to establish payment plans”, adding “This truly gave venue owners who are mostly individuals and not necessarily part of larger organisations, some much needed light at the end of the tunnel.”
In a press release, Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I am so proud to be the mayor of a city which embraces openness and diversity. The pandemic has had a significant impact on our LGBT+ venues, which we know play a vital role in supporting the community, acting as a safe haven where they can feel comfortable and free to be who they are.That’s why we’ve been working hard to protect these spaces and why city hall is providing investment and support at a critical time for our venues to help secure a future for our vibrant LGBT+ scene across the capital.”
London’s night czar Amy Lamé also stated, “LGBT+ venues provide a welcoming space for the community as well as employment for thousands of Londoners. They support an ecosystem of talent that includes performers, DJs and promoters. This fund has been a lifeline for LGBT+ venues following the massive blow from the coronavirus pandemic and gives them a chance of survival as we move forward.”
Hannah Wadey of the Safer Business Network stated in the release: “LGBTQ+ venues are an extremely valuable part of London’s night-time offer. Their vibrancy and diversity makes a huge contribution to the cultural experience of visitors to the city from home and abroad, as well as supporting the local LGBTQ+ community. In most cases, the grants represent a vital life-line for businesses that simply wouldn’t have been able to re-open without the support that they offer. This support has enabled them to meet financial commitments and continue to trade for the foreseeable future.”