This Independent Venue Week, we’re running a series of features looking into the highs and lows of some of London’s most important small venues.
Each year Independent Venue Week, which runs from 29th January – 4th February, acts as a seven day celebration of small venues and those who own, run and work in them.
Each day during the week, we’ll be interviewing the people behind the day-to-day running of some of London’s most loved independent venues and delving into the highs and lows of running them. We’ll also be asking how best they feel they can be supported, both by those who go to gigs and by organisations, and looking into the challenges they face.
Today, we’re talking to booker Chloe Mitchell at Omeara, who’s putting on positive spin on some of the challenges venues face. Make sure to catch up on our previous interviews with The Dome, Paper Dress and The Windmill.
What’s your favourite thing about Omeara?
It’s really difficult to choose just one favourite thing. As a team, we’ve all put some much time and love and energy into building Omeara, maintaining it, and creating a space that so many different people can come and enjoy, and tell their fans about. I suppose, if pushed, the stage is my favourite thing because it’s on that the memories are created. It looks beautiful too, as far as stages go.
What’s been your standout show?
Beck – it was an incredible show and a really proud moment.
It’s been pretty tough for a lot of venues over the past few years with rising business rates, threats of closure and more – but what would you say has been your biggest challenge?
To put a positive spin on those challenges, there are so many different people that have helped Omeara in our first year of business. We’re new to this, so we needed advice and there were lots of helpful, knowledgeable people reaching out to help us from the local area to much further afield. Omeara is located on the Flat Iron Square development and we’re very fortunate to be surrounded by some incredible street food traders who all launched at the same point that we did. I like to think we’ve helped them as much as they’ve helped us. I can’t think of anywhere in London that offers fans such an amazing choice for pre-gig food. We’re very lucky in that respect.
“There are so many different people that have helped Omeara in our first year of business.”
Is there anything your average gig-goer can do to support local venues, besides just turning up to gigs?
Making use of their local venue is really the only thing we can expect gig-goers to do. There are endless petitions out there trying to keep venues alive from imminent closure, and as a community we’re always far stronger as a collective. Look after your neighbours and their campaigns, sign these petitions, and spread the word. You can only regret not doing so.
Are there any common mistakes you feel venue owners make that hurt business?
I’m so new to all this, and making mistakes is part of the process. I’m not in any position to be criticising others’ decisions.
Any stories of terrible bands over the years? Or are the 70’s cliches of rock’n’roll band behaviour extinct?
We’ve only been open for just over a year, so I’m sure a few artist excesses are still to come. I like to think we’re able to provide all are artists with what they need, and sometimes what they want too!
What are your biggest hopes for the future of independent venues & live music?
It’s probably obvious, but I hope the conversation of venue closure becomes a rarity. Whoever is reading this will have countless memories of their favourite shows in their favourite venues. I hope Omeara has, and will, continue to provide those favourite memories, and that the incredible selection of venues all over London (and beyond) can join us in providing those.
There is so much amazing music out there, and we want to offer artists a stage to play it to as many people as possible, and for many years to come.