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The council acts to secure future of an iconic Soho music

Wed, 29/01/2020

One of the world’s most iconic music clubs has become the first to be granted special status, under a move by Westminster City Council to protect grassroots venues.

The 100 Club, which has seen the likes of The Rolling Stones, Oasis and The Sex Pistols perform there, is set to benefit from business rates relief under plans put forward by Westminster City Council.

The council’s decision will allow the music venue, which first played live music back in 1942, to benefit from a ‘NNDR Localism Relief’. It is the first-ever live music venue to benefit from this measure and comes following discussions with London’s Night Czar Amy Lamé about supporting grassroots music venues in the city.

Under the plans, music venues in Westminster that meet the following criteria can benefit from up to 100 per cent business rates relief:

  • their prime purpose is as a grass roots music venue
  • the property is on the Greater London Authority’s (GLA) register of grass roots music venues
  • the organisation occupying the property and liable for business rates must be not for profit
  • the scheme primarily aims to support grass roots music venues in the Soho area, although any grass roots music venue in the borough could be assisted if they meet the relevant criteria

Cllr Timothy Barnes, Lead Member for Soho, said:

“The names of the bands who have graced the stage of The 100 Club read like a who’s who of showbiz – from Paul McCartney and Paul Weller to the latest acts like A$AP Ferg. Even the Gallagher brothers agreed to get on for the night when they played here.

“This latest action from Westminster City Council means the show will go on at this iconic venue. Business rates relief may not seem very rock ‘n’ roll, but – as the Rolling Stones might have said when they played at the club – it will mean satisfaction to a generation of music fans.”

The 100 Club was granted status as a Community Interest Company (CIC) in September, recognising it as a not for profit social enterprise for the public good. The business rates relief would help the club secure its financial position, saving it around £76,000 a year. 

Jeff Horton, owner of The 100 Club, said:

“I’m thrilled the 100 Club has been granted this new business rates relief. It means we can continue to support the careers of the hundreds of artists who take to our stage each year.

“This is a game changing approach from a local authority in supporting grassroots music venues.

“I’m grateful to Westminster Council and for the continued support of the Mayor of London and the Night Czar.

“I hope that other local authorities will adopt a similar forward thinking approach to support the music industry.”

London’s Night Time Tsar Amy Lamé said:

“The 100 Club is an important part of London’s music history, providing a stage for up-and-coming and world- renowned acts for more than 75 years.

“Grassroots music venues play a key role in London’s thriving nightlife and that is why we’ve worked closely with The 100 Club and Westminster City Council to secure its future.

“This is the first time that special status has been awarded to a grassroots music venue and it is a great example of what can be done to support venues in our city.

“I urge other local authorities to work with us to support venues in their boroughs and help boost London’s vibrant nightlife.”

Between 2007 and 2016, the number of grassroots music venues in the capital fell by a third, from 144 to 94, and independent research shows that a fifth of venues could be forced to close due to business rates increases.

Statement from Billy Bragg:

“The 100 Club has played host to some of the most dynamic pop music that the UK has produced during its eight decades of existence. It was the crucible of trad jazz, played host to the skiffle boom and made room for 60s beat groups. In 1976, its storied stage saw British punk rock take its first baby steps.

“So news that Westminster City Council has decided to support the continued existence of the 100 Club is most welcome. Very few venues have survived from the dawn of British pop and it is fitting that the tenacity of those who run the 100 Club has been rewarded in this way.

“Congratulations to them and to the Music Venue Trust, who played an important role in securing the long term future of this historic venue.”

Statement from Jason Williamson, Sleaford Mods:

“My first recollection of the 100 Club was being pulled in as a young kid looking at black and white photos of Steve Jones doing this kind of piss take Jimmy Page guitar pose and next to him this bizarre looking singer, John Rotten. The 100 Club sign that was behind them hasn’t changed. I always touch that sign when we play and imagine those old days when the stage partly gave birth to Punk Rock. It’s not changed at all. I can't tell you how pleased we were to hear that the threat of closure had abated due o the award from Westminster Council. Long live the 100 Club!

Statement from Frank Turner:

“I'm ecstatic to hear about this breakthrough for the long term future of the 100 Club. The venue is a historic landmark, across the history of popular music, from jazz to punk and beyond (and indeed it was the site of a pivotal gig in my career, with Million Dead in 2002, and I've been back to headline since). The prospect of losing the 100 Club was too much to bear, and it's wonderful news that it's future is now secure. I am proud to be a patron of Music Venue Trust, who do incredible work in helping maintain and celebrate our stock of underground venues, without which our culture will have no place to evolve and thrive.”

Statement from KT Tunstall:

"I am absolutely thrilled to hear the news about the 100% rates relief for the 100 Club on Oxford Street. Westminster Council get it! 

“These iconic small venues all over the country are the lifeblood of the UK music scene, and rates can and do force them out of business. I met the Music Venue Trust for the first time inside the 100 Club at an event to celebrate busking, along with its brilliant owner Jeff Horton, and couldn’t be happier to know it will be a space for music for years to come.”

Rou Reynolds, Enter Shikari:

"The 100 Club is an incredible venue. When you walk into the place you are confronted by a rich history. For decades, seminal music has been presented here. From it’s beginnings as a swing club, with one of my early heroes Glenn Miller as it’s patron, to being an important hub for rock, punk and hardcore. There's too many legends to list that have performed on its stage. Being in central London gives it an extra magic too. It’s now really the only remaining popular music venue in West End, so we’re overjoyed at the news that this side of London’s history is being protected. Big up the Music Venue Trust and everyone involved in the campaigning and decision."

Last updated: 29 January 2020