The London cultural institution under threat of closure

The London cultural institution under threat of closure

Deptford’s Matchstick Piehouse has quickly become the beating heart of south east London’s nightlife scene, but lockdown era rent arrears could see it shut down this week.

Established in 2018, Matchstick Piehouse is a community-oriented venue and arts space located in southeast London. It has quickly become a home away from home for many, playing an important role as a hub for genuine underground culture. It is one of the rare places in the capital which is not profit-driven, accommodates its staff with respect, and the feeling of community infiltrates every aspect of its running.

Hosting a range of events from established ones like Folk Night and Steam Down to queer cabarets, various arts events and exhibitions, refugee mics, film screenings, and live music, the venue prioritises bookings that promote representation for historically underrepresented groups and foster experimental and grassroots platforms. The likes of Goat Girl, Ezra Collective, Olivia Dean and Prima Queen have all been welcomed to perform at Piehouse since the start of their careers. It does not matter what night you are going to come in, it is most likely going to be great! Probably a bit unconventional, but great.

I'm Mia, a curating graduate from Goldsmiths University, and my connection with Matchstick Piehouse began through Steam Down, an iconic jazz jam hosted there since 2019. During my last year of university, while researching the relationship between cultural institutions and their neighbourhoods, I interviewed Dom, one of the venue's founders. A year later, I joined their team.

I started to work there after the lockdown. These days were full of joy and it was truly amazing to see communities being able to come together again. Working there, I have encountered many incredible artists and witnessed outstanding performances. As someone who moved to the UK from abroad, Matchstick quickly became one of my many homes — a space permeated with radical love, where everyone is welcomed and supported, and where new ideas and art forms can be tested.

Besides established events, the venue holds particular significance for young people, providing a nurturing environment where experimentation is encouraged and individuals can embark on their creative journeys. I've seen people host their first events, organise film screenings, and take the stage for the first time. People come and try - they learn and then go and do amazing things.

I was really sad to hear about the financial struggles, mainly because the root of the problem is unpaid rent from the time of the pandemic when the space was closed. We have already seen the great impact the lockdown had on cultural spaces and art production, and we cannot afford to lose any more community oriented venues in London.

However, the overwhelming support the venue has received in recent days is heartening and underscores its importance to the community. If you've been to Matchstick, you understand its uniqueness. If you haven't, please support us, ensuring you have the opportunity to experience its special atmosphere in the future!

You can donate to the Matchstick Piehouse fundraiser here.

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