‘Devastating’ - UK’s only LGBTQ+ theatre Above the Stag closes Vauxhall venue
Owners of the off West End theatre, cabaret lounge and bar made the shock announcement that the venue had “ceased trading and permanently closed” on Sunday, August 7.
They later revealed the “heart-breaking” closure came after they were unable “to come up with a feasible business plan for the next five years in our existing venue”.
It comes as Network Rail is set to carry out a full safety inspection and repairs at the railway arches in Vauxhall in the next six months, which will see all venues closed and emptied.
Andy Hill, operations director and producer, said in a statement: “Since announcing the heart-breaking closure of our Vauxhall venue, Above The Stag has been overwhelmed by thousands of kind and positive messages of support.
“The past five years, in our beautiful Vauxhall home, have been extremely happy and successful but financially very challenging.
“Regretfully, it has not been possible to come up with a feasible business plan for the next five years in our existing venue.”
He added: “Our landlord, The Arch Company, has been very understanding and supportive.
“Another contributing factor in the decision to close is Network Rail, as a priority, has to carry out a full back to brick safety inspection and repairs to the arches in the next six months.
“The arches have to be closed, emptied, stripped back, and then all reinstated after the repairs are completed.”
But the team insists “the show is not over yet” with benefactors pledging to donate £2m over the next five years subject to the theatre finding a new venue with a feasible business model.
Andy added: “Above The Stag is still very much alive and kicking.
“All furniture, fixtures, fittings and equipment are being transferred into storage in readiness for a reopening elsewhere at a later date.
“The search for our new home begins now.
“If you have any suggestions regarding a suitable new home for us then please email us at [email protected].“
Theatre goer Andrew wrote on Twitter: “Such a sad loss.
“Above the Stag provided an important community space for us to tell our stories.
“Losing yet another LGBTQIA+ venue (and, as far as I know, the only dedicated theatre) feels pretty devastating.
“Hope it can be saved/relaunched in some form.”
Night czar Amy Lame said: “I have been in touch with Above the Stag following the sad and sudden news of their closure, and awaiting a reply. I’ve offered to help in any way we can from City Hall.”
Above the Stag was founded in 2008 above The Stag, a gay pub in Victoria.
After the old venue was demolished, it moved to Vauxhall, where the railway arches were home to a 100-seat theatre, a 70-seat cabaret lounge and heated outdoor terrace bar.
The theatre has said all ticket holders with future bookings will be fully refunded and all creditors, staff and creatives owed money will be paid in full.