Customers, performers, campaigners and other LGBT+ venues celebrated this week after the Royal Vauxhall Tavern announced it had signed a new 20 year lease with the Austrian company Immovate which owns the building. We asked James Lindsay, the CEO of the iconic venue, what the new lease means for their future plans and aims for The RVT.
Hi James, congratulations of getting the new lease, in basic terms what does this mean for the future of the RVT?
Thank you. It has been a protracted process in agreeing the new 20 year lease and now it is business as usual at RVT. It is my intention to continue the fantastic achievements we have made. We are going in the right direction and where I always wanted RVT to be. As owner of the operating company, the day to day running of the venue will remain with me under the structure of the new lease. Any change to the lease and any future assignment of the lease will be under my control. It will always be my intention to ensure the history and culture of RVT is preserved.
Everyone in the team must be thrilled that this is now sorted?
They are relieved that we have long term planning of RVT agreed. Undoubtedly it would have created uncertainty to the team about their job security and also to the programme of events knowing how far we can plan ahead. That uncertainty has now been removed and we can now work together to ensure that this continues. It is not just the team that this affects, the very loyal customer support we have will also be thrilled – it’s a place where many long term friendships have been made at RVT over the years and long may this continue.
The last couple of years have seen a growth in the business and an expansion in the kind of nights and acts at the venue, from Bucks Fizz to Recon, has that helped with securing the future?
The question of tenancy has now been addressed and to go from a loss-making business in 2014 and implementing a turnaround strategy to be a commercially viable trading company in three years is an extraordinary achievement.
The business and its success and further growth mean that my company, promoters and artists have to work hard to make sure that this continues. Who would have imagined a few years ago that T’Pau, Toyah, Sonia, Gabrielle, Mica Paris, the Three Degrees and many credible artists would all have performed live at RVT? They love the venue, its intimacy and the fantastic reception their performances receive from our loyal customers. The intimacy of RVT is what makes us unique and so special.
Plus the continued success of regulars such as Duckie, BeefMince, Bar Wotever, Push The Button, Anthem and Bingo. How important are these nights?
Absolutely vital. It is also important for RVT to remain diverse in our programme of events and attract the best promoters and credible artists to ensure the shows, cabaret and club nights remain current and vibrant. With the new lease comes a considerably higher rent, our overheads remain extremely high and all who wish to be part of RVT have to play their part in keeping the venue open for business. The restrictions placed on the business means the operating costs are onerous. Any operating costs are not only applicable to me but will also apply to any future operator.
You’ve been a home for regular performers like David Hoyle, D.E. Experience, Myra DuBois, Mary Mac, Charlie Hides plus new acts such as Ripley and Tracy Barlow, how important is this?
It is important that up and coming artists have a platform to develop and express their work. If RVT can offer this opportunity as we have done with Lily Savage, D.E.Experience, Regina Fong, Adrella, Charlie Hides, Mary Mac, Myra DuBois, Scottee and collectives such as Haus of Royals, Art of Drag, Bar Wotever and of course Duckie who have now supported RVT for over two decades.
What are your hopes and aims for the RVT going into this new lease?
My aim is to ensure the RVT continues to evolve and to preserve the history and culture within this iconic and very much loved London landmark.