Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hands a ‘lifeline’ to LGBT+ venues with emergency coronavirus funding

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan waves during Pride in London 2019

LGBT+ venues in London have been provided with tens of thousands in emergency funding from mayor Sadiq Khan in a bid to help them survive the coronavirus crisis.

The city’s LGBT+ venues were already facing a rising tide of increasing rents and redevelopment efforts prior to the pandemic, with months of closure and social distancing restrictions hammering businesses across the LGBT+ sector.

On Tuesday, mayor of London Sadiq Khan approved £128,500 in sector-specific grants for LGBT+ businesses in the city, to help rescue of the venues hardest hit by the pandemic.

The fund includes £14,000 for the iconic Royal Vauxhall Tavern, £15,000 for The Glory and £10,000 for Dalston Superstore.

Grants give London LGBT+ venues ‘some light at the end of the tunnel’.

Bal Sidhu, the owner of West Five Bar in Ealing, which received £18,000 under the scheme, thanked the mayor for the “lifeline”.

He said: “LGBT+ venues are very important to provide a venue open to all yet importantly remain a safe haven for members of the LGBT+ community.

“The entertainment industry has been struggling with more and more venues closing down or being replaced with residential units which could lead to certain arts and niche cabaret being lost in the UK, which would be a real shame.”

Sidhu said the grants have “helped us create a buffer to be able to establish payment plans”, adding: “This truly gave venue owners who are mostly individuals and not necessarily part of larger organisations, some much needed light at the end of the tunnel.”

Sadiq Khan says LGBT+ venues must remain a ‘safe haven’.

In a release, Sadiq Khan said: “I am so proud to be the mayor of a city which embraces openness and diversity.

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on our LGBT+ venues, which we know play a vital role in supporting the community, acting as a safe haven where they can feel comfortable and free to be who they are.

“That’s why we’ve been working hard to protect these spaces and why city hall is providing investment and support at a critical time for our venues to help secure a future for our vibrant LGBT+ scene across the capital.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to key workers at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon on September 4

London mayor Sadiq Khan speaks to key workers at the All England Lawn Tennis Club at Wimbledon on September 4 (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

London’s night czar Amy Lamé said: “LGBT+ venues provide a welcoming space for the community as well as employment for thousands of Londoners. They support an ecosystem of talent that includes performers, DJs and promoters.

“This fund has been a lifeline for LGBT+ venues following the massive blow from the coronavirus pandemic and gives them a chance of survival as we move forward.”

Hannah Wadey of the Safer Business Network said: “LGBTQ+ venues are an extremely valuable part of London’s night-time offer. Their vibrancy and diversity makes a huge contribution to the cultural experience of visitors to the city from home and abroad, as well as supporting the local LGBTQ+ community

“In most cases, the grants represent a vital life-line for businesses that simply wouldn’t have been able to re-open without the support that they offer. This support has enabled them to meet financial commitments and continue to trade for the foreseeable future.”