Sad news reaches us that the Union Chapel in Islington is to close. The Union Chapel Project (UCP) said that:
...a recent vote by the Church membership to ban the consumption of alcohol in main auditorium, with immediate effect, was carried by a small majority. We asked for time to establish alternative income streams to offset the financial repercussions of this ban and the consequent damage to the bar lead economy. An appeal against this decision was turned down by the Church. This has lead to a breakdown of trust and confidence between UCP and the Church and under company and charity law UCP has no alternative but to cease trading.
We are devastated by this situation. The only way through would have been to have the secular life of the building put on an equal par alongside the religious. To renegotiate this position would have been a long process assuming there was the will to do it and it would have taken too long given the fragility of the financial situation following a very tough year for the venue...
This is indeed sad news. The Union Chapel was the venue of one of our favourite gigs ever: The Polyphonic Spree in August 2002. The combination of a band that comes across as a religious cult and the Union Chapel's, er, chapel-like qualities was a match that really could literally have been made in heaven. What other venue could offer dancing in the pews, stage-diving off the pulpit, and vocals carrying unassisted by a PA system? The Union Chapel has also hosted gigs by Patti Smith, Bjork, Salif Keita, Ravi Shankar, Beck, and David Byrne.
It doesn't look likely, but if you want to send in your views on the closure of the UCP to try and sway the opinion of the Church, mail the UCP directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.