By Ben Walters. 3:30pm, Friday 25 August 2017
There are new hopes for the reopening of the Black Cap following an agreement between the freeholder of the iconic LGBTQ+ pub and the community group that has been campaigning for its reopening since it closed in April 2015.
Members of the Black Cap Foundation met representatives of Kicking Horse, who own the freehold of the Black Cap site at 171 Camden High Street. Representatives of Camden council and the GLA culture-at-risk team were also present.
All sides agreed to work together to identify a new, third-party leaseholder to reopen the Black Cap as an LGBTQ+ venue with cabaret performance at its heart as soon as possible.
Black Cap Foundation director Alex Green said: “We’re thrilled at this agreement. This is a crucial step towards our goal of reopening the Black Cap, and we welcome the cooperation of the freeholders and the support of Camden council and the GLA in making that a reality.
“We’ve always believed the Black Cap’s unique, irreplaceable legacy of community and culture is worth fighting for, and can’t wait to see how it will be reinvented next.”
A spokesperson for Kicking Horse said: “We very much hope to find the leaseholder with the right vision, experience and resources to begin a brand new chapter for this world-famous venue.”
Amy Lamé, Night Czar, said: “I would love to see the legendary Black Cap open for business again. Over the past decade, London has lost more than half of its LGBT+ venues and this must stop. The Mayor is clear that LGBT+ venues are a fundamental part of London’s vibrant nightlife and culture, and has tasked me with stemming the flow of closures across the city.
“My team and I have been able to work alongside the Black Cap Foundation community campaign group, Camden council and the venue owners Kicking Horse to work towards a resolution that will see this iconic venue throw open its doors once more.
“This announcement is a huge step forward. I hope a new leaseholder can be found swiftly and I can’t wait to work with them and join London’s diverse LGBT+ community in enjoying the unique atmosphere of the Black Cap.”
The Black Cap has been a space of queer community and culture since before partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.
Known as the ‘Palladium of Drag’, it has hosted residencies by groundbreaking performers such as Lily Savage, Mrs Shufflewick and Regina Fong, after whom the pub’s first-floor Shufflewick Bar and Fong Terrace are named. More recently, it was home to the Family Fierce, who showcased acts from RuPaul’s Drag Race.
Since the 2015 closure, the Black Cap Foundation (of which I am also a director) has maintained a weekly Saturday afternoon vigil outside the pub, celebrating the venue’s past and sharing stories with local residents while campaigning for its reopening.
A recent report from University College London’s Urban Laboratory found that 58% of London’s LGBTQ+ venues have closed in the past decade, despite many remaining commercially viable.
The Black Cap’s new leaseholder will take on a 25-year lease for the five-storey building. The site has Asset of Community Status and sui generis planning use class (cabaret performance), and requires significant capital expenditure.
Conversations are already underway with a number of prospective leaseholders but no firm offer has yet been made.
Following the agreement, the campaign and the freeholder are working together to generate marketing materials but business information is already available.
Interested parties are encouraged to contact Alex Green of the Black Cap Foundation on firstname.lastname@example.org and Paul Tallentyre of David Coffer Lyons sales agent on email@example.com for further details.
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