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Stephen Beresford – writer of the BAFTA award winning film Pride – is among those backing performers and punters of the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern in a new campaign to safeguard its future, following its recent sale to property developers.
The launch of the campaign comes in the wake of the shocking closure of the Black Cap in Camden, another venerable London LGBTQ venue.
Stars of Duckie – the RVT’s biggest weekly crowd puller – and the legendary performer David Hoyle are among those leading the campaign to save the Tavern. Rob Holley, who runs the venue’s popular Push the Button night, is also on board.
Built in 1862, the RVT is believed to be the UK’s longest running LGBTQ venue and recently featured in Beresford’s hit film. A haven before decriminalisation, and a crucial hub during the Aids crisis, the RVT is today a thriving site of culture, performance and community in South London. It was subject to frequent police raids in the 1980s and 90s, causing Lily Savage to almost start a riot, and is where Freddie Mercury brought Princess Diana – dressed as a boy – for a night out.
But since buying up the Tavern in October, new owners Immovate – an Austrian property company – have repeatedly declined to reveal their intentions, or even guarantee the venue’s long-term future as a LGBTQ bar. The continuing uncertainty has fuelled fears that the Tavern will be closed or transformed out of step with its history.
That has spurred some of the RVT’s most successful acts to join forces with concerned regulars and take things in to their own hands. RVT Future is the most high profile of several recent campaigns to date to save well-known London LGBTQ venues that have fallen victim to London’s over-heated property market.
The campaign is seeking to:
The group is asking concerned members of the public to sign up to its campaign on its website.
Stephen Beresford commented: ‘The RVT is so much more than just a bar. As Pride shows, it has a special role in LGBTQ history and London life; a unique place where different communities can come together.
‘The RVT has always stood out as embodying the true spirit of the LGBTQ movement and it would be a real shame if it lost touch with that heritage. I support the campaign and wish it all the best.”
Push the Button’s Rob Holley, who is involved in the campaign, said: ‘The RVT has a very special place in the hearts of the LGBTQ community. For decades its anarchic and colourful nights have brought much needed character to the scene. London life would simply be far poorer without it.’
RVT Future will hold a free launch event at the Cinema Museum in Kennington (2 Dugard Way, London SE11 4TH) at 7pm on Sunday 26 April, including a screening of the documentary Save The Tavern, recently screened at BFI Flare.
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