Nestled between Peckham and New Cross, Rising Sun Collective (named after the former pub it calls home) is an LGBTQ+-friendly music and arts creative house. With studios, event spaces and affordable housing, it’s played host to gigs from the likes of AJ Tracey and Jamie XX. But recently its members found that all of that was suddenly at risk.
The group had been living in the building on a rolling contract since 2015. ‘When we first moved in they [the landlord] only wanted to give us a six-month tenancy,’ says Scott Bowley, a recording artist and co-founder of the collective, explaining that fear of eviction loomed over their heads. ‘Of course, every year that went by, more of a community built up around the place and there was more at stake.’
When, during the pandemic, the eviction notice finally came, the group decided to fight back. Their idea? To raise the £1.1 million needed to buy the building. With the help of advisors, they built a plan to turn the space into a co-op using donations and loan stocks (a type of simple loan that any individual can give to the co-op for a certain amount of time). If they’re successful it’ll mean they can keep the building – and a slice of culture alive in south London. Tenants will still pay rent but it will go to support the collective rather than to a private landlord.
The group still have £68,000 to acquire before they can buy the space, says member and burlesque performer Chloe Curry. When they do, the win will go far beyond the Rising Sun Collective. They plan to invest in other co-ops, helping them to put down deposits. The aim? To show that, for low-earning London artists, there’s an alternative to relying on being tied to the whims of landlords. Curry is hopeful: ‘If this were to spread across London, and there were to be more examples that start up after this one, that’s such a positive thing.’
You can support the Rising Sun Collective’s campaign here.
Read our AJ Tracey profile.
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