October 10, 2007

Save the Tin Angel

Coventry’s Tin Angel has, over the past five years, become something a watermark for the arts within it‘s field. Attracting acts as diverse as Jose Gonzalez, Jeffrey Lewis, Misty’s Big Adventure and the Wombats the Tin Angel and it’s younger sibling, Taylor John’s House have rolled back Coventry’s status as a cultural void and in turn helped fledgling local acts hone their skills in a truly unique environment. However, it has recently been announced that should the Tin Angel group fail to raise £23,000 the venues as we know them will be closed; leaving a gaping whole in Coventry’s cultural sector.
Opened in 2002 by Richard Guy the Tin Angel has provided a performance space for artists, poets and musicians for five years, whilst Taylor John’s House which opened in 2006 has provided both recording and rehearsal facilities for musicians and, in the evenings hosted gigs by some legendary recording artists including Damo Suzuki, Bert Jansch and Richie Havens.
Perhaps the key problem has been the persistent complaints that have plagued both venues regarding noise. Complaints from residents living above the Tin Angel has resulted in the revocation of it’s entertainment license whilst residents in the canal basin have complained about the noise of talking as audiences leave Taylor John’s. Trivialities it seems are the character of life. I may be out of line, but surely if the worst of your problems is a few punters chatting as they walk past your house at 11pm you can deal with it, right? Such issues may strike one as petty, insignificant even but they have managed to disrupt performances and club nights at both venues arguably hitting where it hurt in terms of returning punters.
What’s really important is not what has brought us to the point where the Tin Angel faces closure, but rather what can we do to support it. At a meeting in the Tin Angel earlier this week Richard Guy asked to raise awareness of the Tin’s plight and discussed his plans to convert the business into a non profit organisation which would serve the communities artists even further as a space to flourish. He also said that messages of support would be of equal value to any financial contributions, these can be sent to savethetin@yahoo.co.uk or posted on a Facebook group ‘Save the Tin Angel and Taylor John’s House’.
To some of you this may seem like some kind of plea for poverty or an admission of failure and an attempt to rectify that by converting to a non-profit making organisation, a cynical but perhaps understandable assumption. However, I have experienced first hand the passion that the staff at Taylor John’s have for music. In April this year I booked Darren Hayman to play at Taylor John’s through Offbeat; the universities indie/alternative music society, however there was an issue with funding and the Union denied us access to the society accounts for failing to follow policy. This left us high and dry, after scraping together the funds from our own bank accounts a few exec members paid for the gig ourselves; we made a loss, on top of that we had the venue to pay. Rich knew our situation and knew that we couldn’t afford to do this in reality and so waived our fees and ignored the proposed door fee. Our arses were saved. I know this isn’t exactly professional but I thought it was needed to illustrate the kind of people I’m talking about, or rather the kind people I’m talking about.
All of you who love the Tin and Taylor John’s please cut the crap and make a statement, attend up coming gigs, send an email. Tell you friends. Without the Tin Angel Coventry is a desert. Let’s make a difference.

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