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Free space for emerging Soho artists in funding plea

Pioneering project threatened by business rates hike

23 June, 2017 — By The Xtra Diary

Founder Dudley Nevill-Spencer launches No Artists No Art campaign

A gallery that provides free exhibition space to emerging artists in the heart of Soho has launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep the project going.

Lights of Soho in Brewer Street is trying to raise £25,000 to expand and “continue to have a sustainable business”, which they say will let them keep supporting creatives.

One of the owners, co- founder Dudley Nevill-Spencer, told Diary: “It is about raising awareness of the wider issue of rate rises that are pushing a lot of the independent venues out of Soho. Our whole raison d’être is to provide a platform for creatives in this area to play their music, present their art, show their photography and film to help create a career and a success out of it. Without a platform it is very difficult.”

The venue provides space upstairs for free for those who can’t afford to pay to exhibit their work. “Say a 19-year-old pho- tographer from college, a 60-year-old poet, a young film producer – we give them an area and a night to present their work,”
he said.

Mr Nevill-Spencer said that while Soho used to be a hub for this sort of thing, property prices on the rise meant this was being stamped out.

Lights of Soho, which also contains a private members’ club, puts all profits from art and drinks sale and corporate events straight back into the business. A third of memberships to the members’ club are given away for free to attract a variety of creative people, he added.

“The owners have never taken a salary or a fee of any kind from the venue,” he said.

Lights of Soho has enjoyed great success since it launched two years ago, Mr Nevill- Spencer said, but the recent rise in business rates has made it difficult to survive.

“It’s been incredible so far. The amount of support we have had from the creative community has been unbelievable. It feels like the authenticity behind that is really respected.”

The campaign, entitled No Artists No Art, explained that expanding into the basement space next door will result in “a very significant increase in income” without high running costs.

“This will enable us to keep supporting creatives, allowing them to use upstairs to promote their art, show their films, play their music, while the members can still access the basement at all times.”

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