Archive Interviews

Saving the Piehouse with Liv Wynter

Friends of the Piehouse! flyer

The situation for venues in London remains fucking bleak: south east’s IKLECTIK closed up shop in late January, its site awaiting the usual fate. Matchstick Piehouse, a great, accessible and proudly anti-captialist spot in Deptford, is also under threat from unsustainable rent increases. Resistance is afoot, though: venue mainstay and How To Catch a Pig organiser LIV WYNTER and Sister Midnight’s LENNY WATSON have joined to help establish a workers co-operative model and to see how best the venue can return to form in 2024; I asked Liv a few questions about where they’re at now:

AS: What made you decide to get involved with securing a future for Matchstick?

Liv: I have worked at the Piehouse in various capacities previously — I wrote and rehearsed my debut play there in 2019, and I currently run an anarchist night there which has been a sellout over the last 2 years. The Piehouse has been a haven for those of us who want to make political work embedded in our community, and without it collectives like mine will struggle to find a home with more and more venues buckling under the weight and pressure of Tory reign. I decided to get involved with Lenny, my friend from Sister Midnight as we both have experience that we feel can help reinvigorate an already legendary venue.

Another reason I desperately wanted to get involved is because its one of the very few wheelchair accessible smallish capacity venues in London. Trying to find a grassroots wheelchair accessible space is a huge issue for performers like myself that don’t want to compromise on who can access the building. Without the Piehouse, we lose a venue that is so rare in all the things its able to achieve in terms of who feels like they can come and hangout, and who can be on the stage.

AS: Who’s been the best inspiration for making a venue a worker owned co-operative?

Liv: The staff! Lenny and myself met with the staff and pitched a proposal that we would step in to see a new group, Friends of the Piehouse, established. The staff want that group to be a workers co-op, and its super exciting as we are based near other legendary co-ops such as Sanford Housing Co-op and of course the soon to be open Sister Midnight. We want to see a world where the workers are empowered, where community calls the shots, and where we can hold down spaces for a long time without it falling on the shoulders of one or two people to sustain the responsibility.

AS: What is the future looking like at this point, and how can people get involved?

Liv: Well, we had a super exciting meeting today and are about to go hard with our fundraiser! When we first heard the news the Piehouse was at risk, a fundraiser was initially set up to cover some but not all of the debt. That fundraiser was later refunded to the community, as putting their cash straight into the landlords hand didn’t feel right and didn’t tackle the issues going forward. The old company has dissolved, and we now have the opportunity to funnel that money into the future instead of the past. The combination of mine and Lenny’s experience, support from Music Venue Trust and the GLA, plus the support of staff and community around the Piehouse means we have been given their total vote of confidence that we will be able to open and sustain ourselves — we just need a helping hand to get started! We encourage people to give generously to this fundraiser, and to shout at me if they’d like to discuss throwing fundraising events on our behalf.

AS: What’s been your favourite night at the venue?

Liv: Is it arrogant to say my own?! Obviously every How To Catch A Pig has been legendary and iconic and they will always be my favourites. Steamdown and Folk night have done so much incredible work to foster two sell out gorgeous community nights and I love going to both of them and look forward to welcoming them back when we eventually kick open our doors! Here’s to 100 new favourite nights!

Donate, get stuck in: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/help-turn-deptford-venue-into-a-workers-coop/. The Friends of the Piehouse all-dayer at the Fox & Firkin is on Sunday 17th March 2024 with an absolutely stacked lineup, with more to be announced (who is PDA?). Tickets are here; you can also catch Liv Wynter at their biggest solo show yet at Corsica Studios on March 19th, with leather.head and Egg Meat too! 

As printed in Another Subculture’s February 2023 issue; get the latest paper by subscribing.

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