Big Issue Invest investment cements Village Underground as East London’s leading live music venue owner-operator

Big Issue Invest (BII) has committed to a significant new investment in VU X Earth Limited (“VU”), a social enterprise, and owner of the Village Underground and EartH Hackney live performance venues in London.

The growth funding for planned capital expenditure will allow improvements to the EartH performance venues and additional refurbishment to be undertaken so that the business can establish the training workspace needed to train young people entering the industry.

The funding will allow Village Underground and EartH to extend their reach to young talent through creative development opportunities. VU will be collaborating with local providers such as Hackney Empire, Progression Sessions- a music charity that develops young artists on projects that platform young artists and train young creatives for careers in the industry over the next five years. 

This February, EartH is collaborating with Hackney Empire to showcase young talent in the borough. The event, Pure Vibez- Creators Collide is being put on by the Hackney Empire Young Producers who create their own events for young people like them. This is only the start of the creative training programme, with projects to come including Progression Sessions coming to EartH, enabling young people to create and record their own music.  

One HE Young Producer said of the Young Producers project “It is amazing to put our gig on at EartH because it makes the possibility of being a full time musician feel more real and in my reach in a space that loads of big artists have performed at too”.

Furthermore, the investment will enable VU to build on its 15 year legacy of providing a platform to showcase emerging talent, support artists launching their careers, as well as more established musicians from refurbished, upgraded sites. Acts which have performed in the relaunched venues since September 2021 include a diverse range of names including IDLES, Arlo Parks, Katy B and Bastille, as well as comedians Katherine Ryan and Nish Kumar.

Auro Foxcroft, CEO, VU X Earth Limited, said “We are grateful for Big Issue Invest’s support to lead us out of difficult times allowing us to launch new education facilities and programmes, renovate our venues and reopen bigger and better than ever before. We’re getting right back to hosting some of the greatest musicians from around the globe, supporting new talent, inspiring people and changing lives.”

John Gilligan, Director, Big Issue Invest Fund Management, said of the investment “Post Covid, we all need the chance to get together and share experiences again.  We are backing Auro’s vision of EartH Hackney as a cultural and educational hub.  We are helping emerging and ignored artists break through and people who have been left behind get trained to make a contribution to an industry where the UK leads the world. The people we train will have an unprecedented opportunity to be there at the coal face of the UK arts scene from the day they enrol.”

James Potter, Investment Director, Big Issue Invest, said of the investment “I’m delighted to confirm this new investment by the BII Social Enterprise Impact Fund. Village Underground’s venues are unique and ideal platforms to showcase emerging talent whilst providing transformative education and training programmes.“

Like many other music and arts venues affected by Covid-19 and related opening restrictions, VU’s sites were almost totally closed for 18 months from March 2020 to late summer 2021. The business remained in suspended animation when many similar enterprises failed, but the team’s tenacity and determined relaunch meant that VU has traded well since reopening. The growth funding underwrites the relaunch of Village Underground and EartH Hackney in the post-Covid era.

This investment represents the third and most significant equity investment for Big Issue Invest Social Enterprise Investment Fund II LP (“BII SEIF II”) and will be used to underpin future growth at VU.  With this investment BII SEIF II is now 95% committed. Every SEIF II investment delivers or facilitates social impact to marginalised members of society whose life outcomes are enhanced as a result of their clients’ engagement with these social enterprises.

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