Live music, particularly for grassroots and small venues, is a tough environment to operate in, and in a city like York, where the cost of living is higher than other places in the north, it can be a real challenge. However, whilst York is more famous for its ancient attractions, pretty surroundings, quaint shops and fine restaurants, there is also a bubbling underground music scene.
The Crescent is a 300 capacity fully equipped music venue and bar, that has been transformed from a working men’s club facing closure into one of York’s best venues. Fully independently owned and run as a family business, it initially was started to address the lack of spaces for music promoters in York. We program everything from folk to drum & bass, with recent guests including Turin Brakes, Joy Orbison and Jamali Maddix.
York is often not the first place agents and bands will think of when routing a tour; and it’s been our mission since opening to put our fair city a bit more on the map. Honourable mentions also go to our colleagues at The Fulford Arms, who have taken over a small pub on the outskirts of town and made it into a focal point for up and coming rock bands from both York and further afield. The Basement, underneath City Screen Cinema, is a strange bunker of a room that also plays host to jazz nights and intimate acoustic performances. Like many other cities with only a handful of venues, York has a bristling busking, open mic and pub music scene, and it’s hard to walk down any of the streets in the town centre without hearing the tinkling of a piano’s keys.
However, like many other cities, York faces a challenge from developers who are looking to take advantage of increasing property prices to create luxury flats and hotels. We’ve already seen the closure of pubs like The Falcon Tap, and almost every venue is threatened with developments being proposed nearby. The Music Venue Trust has referred to a perfect storm of developers, business rates and an absolute lack of public funding. If music is the food of love, the scene is starving.
Our team bought the Crescent three years ago, but the club itself has been around since 1904 as a working men’s club. All over Yorkshire, working men’s clubs are shutting down. This is in part due to an outdated membership system, and a lack of attraction for a younger generation, as well as changing consumer habits. We’re trying to show that these incredible spaces don’t have to go to waste. They can serve a new purpose: hubs for music, for community events, and for like-minded people to meet.