Boogie or bust: Windmill Brixton raises £20,000 to keep its doors open

An historic Brixton venue has raised over £20,000 to keep its doors open after the coronavirus crisis. 

Windmill Brixton, which has seen artists such as Black Midi, Florence and the Machine and The Vaccines pass through its doors, could face closure without financial help. 

The venue, which has been open since the nineties, needs to raise £9,000 per month to cover its basic costs. 

The eye-watering figure does not include the cost of staff wages or any stock. 

SHOWSTOPPING: Black Midi live at the Windmill

During the coronavirus lockdown, Windmill Brixton couldn’t claim on their insurance and were only eligible for enough government assistance to cover their rent. 

On top of all this, their landlord attempted to raise their rent in the middle of the crisis. 

While the rent increase was prevented through an arbitration settlement, the venue hasn’t gained any reductions in their rent for the duration of the crisis. 

In a bid to keep the bills paid, the band For Breakfast raised over £5,000 for them at the beginning of lockdown. 

Jo Thompson, 25, the guitarist for the band, said: “Windmill Brixton is a hotbed of talent in London. 

“It would be a hole in the fabric of Brixton [if the venue closed].”

The venue then started its own fundraiser, supported by the Music Venue Trust and has raised over £15,000 to date. 

EARLY DAYS: World-renowned band The Vaccines play Windmill Brixton in 2013

Windmill Brixton band booker Tim Perry, 59, said £20,000 would only keep their doors open for a matter of months. 

Perry said: “Things seem a lot grimmer now as there doesn’t seem to be any government help coming through. It’s going to be quite tough.

“It’s not looking good for winter.” 

Windmill Brixton is now open everyday until 10pm, in line with coronavirus restrictions. 

While opening even for a short period of time is a blessing, Perry expressed his frustrations with the curfew. 

He said: “The 10pm [curfew] is a real kicker as well. 

“We really rely on our late license ‘til one o’clock on Friday and Saturday to break even.”

The venue is now open for matinee performances to bring in extra revenue, but social distancing means the venue’s capacity has decreased from 150 to 32 seats. 

Windmill Brixton, along with the iconic dog that prowls its roof, is loved both locally and nationally and the venue has become a focal point for local talent over the decades. 

It was even the subject of a book, Roof Dog: A short history of the Windmill, by The Times chief rock and pop critic Will Hodgkinson. 

The venue remains grateful for the community’s support during the crisis. 

Perry said: “Without the fundraiser and the grants, it would have been impossible to keep going.” 

Feature Image Credit: David Fisher via Flickr

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