Music

How The Big Issue is helping to keep London's music scene alive

Village Underground and Earth - two of east London's most celebrated venues - have had their futures secured thanks to investment from Big Issue Invest.

Arlo Parks performing at Village Underground. Image: Michael Fung

Any list of beloved live music venues is sure to be littered with closed, gone-but-not-forgotten havens. Think London’s Astoria or Manchester’s Haçienda.

And coming out of the pandemic, having been unable to give their speakers a workout, surviving venues face uncertain times. But two of east London’s most iconic venues have had their futures secured thanks to new backing from Big Issue Invest.

The investment arm of The Big Issue, which helps social enterprises find funding, has backed the company behind Village Underground and Earth Hackney with a multi-million pound investment.

Village Underground, a venue which repurposes old tube carriages, has played host to acts such as Foals.

Born out of a disused Art Deco theatre in Stoke Newington, Earth (Evolutionary Arts Hackney) features two venues with a combined capacity of just under 2,000 people.

The investment will allow VU X Earth, the venues’ parent company, to continue refurbishing the venues, as well as extend their work with young people in the creative industry.

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This February, Earth is collaborating with Hackney Empire to showcase young talent in the borough – one of a number of initiatives aimed at using the venues to bring through a new generation of creative talent.

Auro Foxcroft, CEO, VU X Earth, said: “We are grateful for Big Issue Invest’s support to lead us out of difficult times allowing us to launch new education facilities and programmes, renovate our venues and reopen bigger and better than ever before.

“We’re getting right back to hosting some of the greatest musicians from around the globe, supporting new talent, inspiring people and changing lives.”

After years as a derelict building, Earth was born in 2017 when funding from Big Issue Invest helped Village Underground to purchase and redevelop the site.

John Gilligan, director, Big Issue Invest Fund Management, said of the investment “Post Covid, we all need the chance to get together and share experiences again.

“We are helping emerging and ignored artists break through and people who have been left behind get trained to make a contribution to an industry where the UK leads the world.”

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