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Passing Clouds: Musicians reclaim Dalston venue after bailiffs change locks

PUBLISHED: 12:19 20 June 2016 | UPDATED: 16:30 20 June 2016

The group celebrate after their show of people power. Picture: www.borisaustin.com

The group celebrate after their show of people power. Picture: www.borisaustin.com

www.borisaustin.com

A display of people power saw protesters take back a Dalston music venue after bailiffs changed the locks overnight.

Protesters at the venue on Thursday. Picture: www.borisaustin.com Protesters at the venue on Thursday. Picture: www.borisaustin.com

Hundreds of people, most of them musicians, flocked to Passing Clouds in Richmond Road on Thursday after a cleaner was denied access by two security guards.

They used ladders to climb through a second-floor window and took back possession of the arts hub, which is in the middle of its 10th anniversary celebrations.

The venue was bought by Landhold Developments in November, in what Passing Clouds have called a “secret sale”.

The new owners initially gave management a lease extension until August but it appears that deal changed, leading the private security company to move into the building – which was once the Gazette printworks.

Hundreds of people turned out to help reclaim the building. Picture: www.borisaustin.com Hundreds of people turned out to help reclaim the building. Picture: www.borisaustin.com

Since reclaiming the venue, people have remained inside 24 hours a day and events have gone ahead as planned, including an EP launch by Mercury Prize-winning artist Speech Debelle.

Campaign manager Lizzy Bishop said the act set an example for all independent music venues.

“We are up for a fight,” she told the Gazette. “We want to show them [the owners] that we are part of the community and what we do is really important.”

The three-month anniversary celebrations include performances from international artists including Lee Scratch Perry, Jazzie B of Soul II Soul, Norman Jay and Maxi Jazz of Faithless.

The scheduled events went ahead as planned after the venue was reclaimed. Picture: www.borisaustin.com The scheduled events went ahead as planned after the venue was reclaimed. Picture: www.borisaustin.com

Almost 5,000 supporters have signed a petition to protect the venue and a crowdfunder has been set up to raise £25,000 to support the campaign, which is also being backed by politicians.

MP Meg Hillier said: “Live music venues such as Passing Clouds are part of what makes Hackney and Dalston a magnet for creatives.

“It is vital developers and planners recognise it is venues like these that contribute so much to make areas desirable. If these are lost, some of the very reasons why Hackney is such a popular place to live and work are undermined.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venues Trust, said the venue played a crucial role in the development of emerging artists.

It comes just weeks after independent music venue The Silver Bullet in Finsbury Park closed after being bought by the owners of the Burger and Lobster restaurant chain, who will reopen it as a bar.

The Passing Clouds petition can be viewed here, and the crowdfunder here.

When approached by the Gazette, Landhold Developments declined to comment.

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