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Toya Delazy praises LGBT singers bar as late night booze licence approved

Award winning pianist speaks out as Muse in Frith Street wins 3.30am six days a week

13 October, 2017 — By Richard Osley

Toya Delazy

AN award-winning musician has told how a bar in Soho is leading the way for lesbian singers trying to take the first step in the business and has appealed for authorities to do all they can to protect venues which provide a stage for LGBT artists.

Toya Delazy, a South African pianist who has two hit albums under her belt, said there was a lack of “female-empowering venues” in London.

Her comments came as she wrote to Westminster Council calling on officials not to stand in the way of the Muse bar’s attempts to change its licence. The bar in Frith Street has been granted permission to relax restrictions on customers buying drinks without food and to open until 3.30am, Mondays to Saturdays.

The Soho Society which represents residents, had raised concerns that the bar’s operations would lead to more late- night disturbance as people tried to sleep.

“Soho has a substantial residential community and many of these residents suffer from problems such as, but not limited to, high levels of noise nuisance, problems with waste, urinating and defecating in the streets, threats to public safety, anti-social behaviour, crime and disorder, and the change in character of historic areas,” an objection filed at the council’s offices said.

Fans of the bar and its manager Tara Sirrell, however, flooded the licensing department with messages of support for Muse, with many saying it made customers feel more welcome than other bars, including established LGBT bars.

Ms Delazy said: “There aren’t many female-empowering venues of this nature in London that focus on developing and exposing the female arts scene and offer a platform for artists like myself. Muse Soho will give a platform for many talented female artists in the LGBT that are often overlooked and they would have the opportunity to perform in a venue with great quality and reception, giving artists the chance to create a fan base and further develop their careers.”

She added: “I am a hard-working artist and would not support this ini- tiative if it was mediocre. Muse is a game-changing venue which treats artists with lots of care and aims to amplify the female arts, therefore has my full sup- port.”

Journalist Tom Knight, who runs an World Aids day fundraiser each year at Muse, said: “It’s no secret the LGBT+ community has lost a large amount of venues in recent years. Dozens of spaces have been lost and the impact it has had on our community has rippled through Lon- don. It’s incredibly important for venues like Muse to stay open.”

He added: “Homopho- bic hate crimes have seen a 147 per cent rise from June last year, putting our community in a very vul- nerable position. With so many venues being closed (for lots of reasons). It’s important that our existing spaces continue to be sus- tainable in order to sur- vive. “Muse is more than just a bar, it’s a safe space used by people who don’t always feel safe visiting other venues, even on the LGBT+ scene, making it quite unique”

Antonia Cox, council cabinet member for public protection, said: “Preserving the unique mix of Westminster’s night-time economy is a key priority of the council and we seek to provide a balance between the interests of businesses and needs of local people. We consider each application on its merits. In this case, the proposal did not have any exceptional circumstances that warranted a change to its licence.”

Last night (Thursday), G-A-Y in Soho was waiting to hear if councillors would grant a 4am licence. A possible test- case, the venue in Goslett Yard said it needed extra hours after being hit with a rent hike. The club’s owner Jeremy Joseph said: “Sadiq Khan has said he wants London to be a 24-hour city. I’m not asking for 24 hours, I’m asking for an extra hour.”

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