What’s the deal with this “new” Matthews Yard?

As you may have heard, we are closing our doors for good at our current location on 22nd Feb 2020. We and all other tenants in the building were given 6 months notice to leave at the start of September. We considered putting up a final stand and taking it to the high court, but this would have just delayed the inevitable and cost all parties money they could ill afford. The whole demolition saga has dragged on long enough and in the interests of closure, we decided it was time to pack up and go. Business has been slower since demolition was announced anyway and in the past few months it has been almost unsustainable as so many people thought we were closed already. 

Will there be a closing party?
Of course. Actually, there will be two. School Yard: A family friendly event on the afternoon of 15th February featuring soft-play and party games and a grown-ups only event on the evening of Saturday 22nd Feb, titled “Dead Yard: The Closing Party” The name comes from the Caribbean term for a wake and we thought it appropriate. The evening will feature live music from a number of local artists, followed by DJ sets until the early hours. We are also hosting the “Yard Sale” on the afternoon of 25th February, where lots of our furniture and other random items will be sold off. 

What’s this we hear about new premises?
We have identified a location which is still in the town centre and which would work well for our needs. While it will never be exactly the ‘same’, those who know Matthews Yard over the past 7 or 8 years, will know the only constant has been change. We aren’t publicising the exact location until the lease has been signed, mainly because we have been down this road a few times in the past few years and for one reason or another, the deal fell through, so we don’t want to get hopes up (ours or yours) prematurely, but we are really excited about our first choice, and if it comes through, things should move quickly.  

The new premises is in a much more prominent location and while overall its smaller than the current MY, it will include a larger multifunction events space that offers a dynamic and diverse events schedule. There will also be a good sized meeting room for smaller events. The cafe area should benefit from higher footfall from passing trade, helping keep the overall premises more sustainable and allowing Matthews Yard UK to generate a surplus to reinvest in future growth and keeping the space in the best possible condition.

Will there be live music?
Yes. Absolutely. Music is a fundamental part of Matthews Yard’s DNA. When we opened on 21st April 2012, we had a range of local musicians perform and we have had regular live music events ever since. The past few years have seen a marked reduction, but in the new space we expect to reassert ourselves as a destination for regular, high quality live music events and a showcase for emerging local talent. 

Will there be art?
Of course. While we may not be able to accommodate a dedicated gallery due to space constraints, art is part of who we are.  Without art, Matthews Yard and the wider world would be less vibrant, attractive and relevant. Plans for the new space will include life drawing and art classes, exhibitions and private views and continuing to provide a platform for local artists to exhibit and sell their work. 

Will there be theatre?
Yes. The multi-function space will be better equipped and suited to hosting the sort of theatre productions we have hosted in the studio but with larger audiences, making it more viable for touring theatre companies to generate income. We hope our new home will continue to work with Disco Disco, Croydonites Festival and a range of other local theatre companies to host regular rehearsals and performances. 

Will it still be vegan?
Matthews Yard has been running for almost 8 years and it has been completely vegan for about 6 months. Ditching cow’s milk with coffee and stocking vegan only cakes was a bold move, and it has cost the business in lost trade including from long-term, loyal customers. We welcome the reduced environmental impact that comes with a vegan lifestyle and abhor mass market meat production practices. So we will never go back to selling meat. At the same time, we need to be pragmatic about what the majority of our customer base wants. The new premises will still have a vegan only kitchen operated by Follow Burger Grill. The cafe will be vegetarian.  

Will you still stock local produce?
Yes. Wherever possible all our products will be sourced locally or a local option will be provided. In some cases customers demand big brand names and in the interests of operating a sustainable operation, we will have to meet that demand. You can still expect quality beers from Croydon’s Signal and Cronx breweries and wine from the local Denbies estate and loose leaf tea from the London Tea company. We will also continue to offer spirits distilled in London and soft drinks produced in London.

What’s all this talk of charity status?
The new premises will be operated by Matthews Yard UK Limited (formerly Save Matthews Yard Limited). This company is a non-profit entity which is in the process of being registered with the Charity Commission. The primary aim of the charity is to support the artistic and creative community through the provision of affordable and accessible space. The process of formal registration with the charity commission should take another 2-3 months, but we are already a legal non-profit entity and able to accept donations and apply for grants and other funding. Indeed we were chosen as one of the Co-operatives Local Causes in 2019 and secured £3,800 in funding through this. 

So what’s the deal with the latest Crowdfunder?
Last week we became concerned that while we were making strong progress with signing a new lease, we couldn’t sign commercial agreements with prospective operators or get funds from would be institutional backers, without a signed lease and we didn’t have the capital on hand to pay the security deposit or first month’s rent which was needed to complete the deal. Reluctantly, we hurriedly launched a campaign to get our supporters to donate funds towards the cost of relocating and saving Matthews Yard.

The response has been amazing and In just over a week we have already raised £5,000.More significantly, we also had an offer of £5,000 worth of match funding for the next £5,000 which means that every pound pledged from now, until we reach £10,000 will be doubled.

While £15,000 won’t cover all the costs of relocating it will propel us firmly in the right direction and raising that much money from the local community will send a strong signal to grant making bodies and larger organisations that Matthews Yard has the backing of many people in the local community and is a highly valued and much needed asset.

Aren’t there other places you can raise the money from?
While these avenues are being actively pursued and we have had some initial signs of success in the past week, it will take time to go from pre application, to approval, to receipt of funds. Time is not on our side and we need to raise capital to sign the lease and get started on the new premises. If we don’t secure this space fast, a town centre home gets further from reach.  

If you believe in Matthews Yard and have benefited from its existence over the past 8 years, directly, or indirectly, the time to support it, if you have not done so already, is now. If you would like to make a donation to the new Matthews Yard, please do so here, any amount, no matter how small, will make a difference and the more we raise, the better the space we make will be.

£35,295 of £50,000 raised
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