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What’s the impact on LGBTQ+ venues in the UK?

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Hackney Showroom – Kings Crescent Estate, East London
A staple in London’s creative scene, Hackney Showroom delivers spell binding theatre alongside enriching community building, culminating in a unique excellence that is hard to match.
Co-Directors Sam Curtis Lindsay and Nina Lyndon explain to GAY TIMES what the space means to them.
“We’re unique – we’re a hybrid between an arts organisation that develops and produces live shows and a grassroots community space … the one thing we love the most is the moments when the two strings of our bow sing together. When our experimental, queer and left field artists share their work with our over 60s lunch club or our family audiences, that’s when it feels really exciting.”
With the venue offering community care as well as a space for LGBTQ+ creatives to explore and perfect their craft, we wanted to know if this came with unique challenges when it comes to the impact of the cost of living crisis.
“Our heating bill has gone through the roof and costs for everything have increased,” they explain. “At the same time, competition for funding is more intense than ever, making it hard for us to make ends meet. Part of our remit on Kings Crescent Estate is to provide solutions for local residents and we’ve just launched a Cost of Living Fundraiser allowing those in need on our estate to apply for a £20 shopping voucher this winter.”
Hearing the work that the team do at Hackney Showroom is a breath of fresh air, and a reminder of how integral queer spaces are – not just for LGBTQ+ people – but everybody in the wider community who can benefit from their care. 
Looking ahead, Sam and Nina share why LGBTQ+ artists are shaping their programme for 2023.
“We are back in 2023 with three shows by LGBTQ+ artists. Tomorrow Is Already Dead, a subversive, Bond-inspired musical from Ms Sharon Le Grand; The Legends of Them – a new high octane theatre show with music by actor and former reggae legend Sutara Gayle; and our award-winning, groundbreaking show, BURGERZ by Travis Alabanza is returning to the Southbank Centre in March. Our goal is to hit the ground running, producing inclusive, radical, innovative performance while supporting our local community. 
Alim Kheraj, author of Queer London, a guide to the city’s LGBTQ+ present and past, shared his thoughts on what the biggest threat currently is to LGBTQ+ spaces across the UK.
“I think currently, the biggest issue is the cost of living crisis. I have spoken to venue owners who have expressed concerns about rising costs, as well as debts left over from the pandemic. I think with that comes a rise in rent, as landlords feel the squeeze when it comes to mortgages,” he says.
On the importance of maintaining our historic LGBTQ+ spaces, Alim shares his personal take on why it’s so integral for the future generations of queer folk.
“The more of these venues that survive, the less that LGBTQ+ lives and history is erased. These historic spaces give us a bridge to our queer past and our continued use of them connects us to our futures, while reminding us that against everything LGBTQ+ people persevere and survive. Spaces like the Royal Vauxhall Tavern contain so much of our history and act as a reminder of where we’ve come from and how far we still need to go.”
He adds: “I would say to the current Government that they need to do more. Without support – both financial and from policy – we risk losing some of the most important and vibrant spaces that many queer people rely on.”

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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The dwindling case for living in London

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The recent debate around ‘levelling up’ may be missing something. I would argue that there is another way to consider geographical inequality – and, by this alternative measure, a levelling has been under way for more than 20 years.

I’ve spent three decades working in advertising, so it’s unsurprising that I tend to view economic life through the lens of consumption. By contrast, mainstream economists tend to view disparities through the medium of earnings or wealth. To me, measures of wealth should include not only the quantity of money you have but the breadth of worthwhile options available in choosing how to spend it.

Let’s put it another way. If you live in a boring village, and suddenly a great pub or café opens on the high street, then by my measure you have become richer; by the economist’s measure you have not.

Things that would once have been available in London decades before the provinces now appear everywhereat once 

There was undoubtedly a time when you were richer in London in two ways. You had more money, but you also had a far more exciting range of ways to spend it. Now not so much.

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London is a great city but, in terms of consumption quality, it has not improved markedly in the past 20 years. Over the same period, many smaller cities and even towns have advanced rapidly, significantly narrowing the gap. The kind of things that would once have been available in the capital decades before making it to the provinces – like sushi – now appear everywhere at once. Consider Turkish barbers, who seem to have taken over the country in only five years. (I can remember a time when it was enough just to get a haircut without having burning methylated spirits flicked in my ears. Back then I just didn’t know any better.)

This levelling is especially true of anything in the digital world: Amazon gadgets, Netflix films, Asos fashions and PlayStation games hit Aberystwyth the same day they hit Islington. But it also applies to the physical environment, as anyone over 50 can attest. I went to Manchester and Sheffield for the first time in 1989. Compared with London, they were then, let’s be honest, utterly rubbish. Now, when I visit those same cities, I experience mild ‘northern envy’. There are interesting places open everywhere. Northerners have better cars, because they have more money left over after paying for housing. And they are much better-looking, because they can nip home to get changed before going out.

Relatively speaking, London has improved far less dramatically than these provincial cities have. (New York, many aficionados argue, has got worse.) OK, the Tube is better than it used to be. Uber is a handy addition. But some things are awful – the last pleasure of driving in London ended when they put speed cameras on the Westway. Accommodation costs for the young wipe out any salary gains.

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By my measure, high property prices won’t just hit Londoners once – they’ll hit them twice. Not only do high rents wipe out what you earn, they also put at risk London’s once unassailable advantage as a great place to spend what money you have left. Creative businesses of any kind require space at a price which allows them to take risks. For a time, London found this space by moving its heartland from west to east. But suppose the people supporting what Douglas McWilliams calls ‘the flat white economy’ flee altogether? In my own experience, Kent suddenly seems weirdly full of fascinating restaurants founded by London exiles. If more of these people leave, the case for staying weakens further.

Londoners always say things like ‘Yes but there’s the theatre’. Let’s face it though – even Shakespeare left London for Stratford in his mid-forties. As he no doubt found, the theatre is all very well, but it’s nothing like being able to park outside your house.

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Gentrification is not a sin

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Gentrification is not a sin – UnHerd

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