Passing Clouds was bubbling with a wonderful energy yesterday, as our extended family came together to lawfully reclaim our beloved venue! If you're wondering what's been going on, here's an in depth update about what's been going on behind the scenes these 8 months.
In November 2015, our building was secretly sold to property developers Landhold Developments who originally told us that they had no intention of developing the property and would let Passing Clouds stay indefinitely. However, in February they then informed Passing Clouds that they wished to turn our building into their offices, and that we should vacate the building at the end of our lease in May 2016. You can imagine our surprise at this completely unexpected turn of events.
Due to the massive business liabilities that Passing Clouds would incur if we had to leave with such short notice, we entered into negotiations with Garry Simpson of Landhold Developments, who agreed in writing to extend our lease by 3 months. In April of 2016, Mr. Simpson informed Passing Clouds that he intended to break his written agreement and terminate the lease. He offered to provide a one-month extension if Passing Clouds signed a fraudulent letter stating that Passing Clouds were leaving the building voluntarily due to being unable to sustain the business and buildings. We refused to sign this coercive and fraudulent letter and informed Mr. Simpson that Passing Clouds would be continuing with the original 3-month extension.
At 6:30am on 16/6/16, a private security firm called County Enforcement Group illegally broke into and occupied the building at the behest of Landhold Developments and changed the locks, without court orders or lawful authority. The Passing Clouds community mobilised in the region of 200 people to rally together and reclaim lawful possession of the building.
At 4:30pm that afternoon, Passing Clouds successfully performed a common law eviction of County Enforcement Group and are currently maintaining security of the premises whilst continuing to run events as usual.
Spirits were very high upon re-entering our home of ten years. We continued to celebrate into the night with an impromptu all star jam, featuring all of our core musical family coming together onstage. As we watched our loved ones sing "Passing Clouds Forever", and saw all these wonderful humans of different backgrounds, ethnicities and ages co-create beautiful music, we felt utterly blessed.
The video of our crew performing this Common Law Eviction has since gone viral, with over 55,000 views on Facebook at the time of writing this blog. Check it out below!
The news continues to spread, thanks to this great article from Timeout London, and lots more press in the pipeline. Please get in touch with us if you'd like to help spread the word! Simply send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are one of London’s very last collectively-run independent music venues and it is imperative that the live music scene does not fall prey to the corporate behemoth that threatens to destroy our industry, our livelihoods, and the heart and soul of the UK’s vibrant and diverse culture. Over 40% of London music venues have shut down in the past ten years, and it stops here. Help us keep #PassingCloudsForever!