Forge Camden closure: Much-loved venue 'just wasn't bringing in enough money'
PUBLISHED: 12:00 06 April 2017
© 2009 Marcin Gulbicki
An award-winning not-for-profit music venue and restaurant in the heart of Camden has been forced to close after struggling to make money.
The Forge, based in Delancey Street, was designed from scratch and opened in 2009 to great acclaim from music-lovers and architects alike.
It closed after a final Cuban-themed gig on Friday evening.
Over the last eight years, it has hosted a huge variety of artists playing classical, jazz, Latin, opera, punk, electronica and blues.
It also welcomed novelists, businesspeople, comedians and cultural groups.
Owner and director Adam Caird told the Ham&High he and his team – which includes his wife and co-owner Charlotte – went “above and beyond to try and make it work”.
“It just wasn’t bringing in enough money, unfortunately,” he said.
“We always struggled with the financial side.
“We opened it up to businesses in the last couple of years, but we couldn’t get the volume of people in – I don’t know how other venues do it.”
Mr Caird, 40, added that though the closure of his first enterprise had been “a little while coming”, he still felt a very strong emotional attachment to it.
He opened the Forge with his wife and brother-in-law after deciding there was a need for a large venue to give new musicians the space to perform.
As a pianist and composer himself (his wife is a saxophonist), Mr Caird said the “main driver” was always the music – but the restaurant and bar were important features.
The couple even played a few gigs themselves, but the hard work of managing came to “take over everything”.
“It turns out it’s quite hard to take off your venue-running hat and play a show,” Mr Caird said.
He said he will now take a break with his young family while deciding to whom he will sell the super eco-friendly building – which includes a “living wall”, solar panels and natural ventilation.
“In a way, it’s a little bit of a relief because now we can fully focus on our family,” he said.
“But I would still love to see someone come in, take over and give it a new lease of life.
“We’re a bit worn out – but maybe some people with fresh energy can start up their own thing.”
The Forge employed 12 people full-time in its office, bar and kitchen and also used two freelance sound engineers and a regular security team – as well as providing a stage for its resident DJs and musicians.
It was also used as an essential space for certain communities, particularly the Cubans.
“They are upset it’s closing, and it’s so hard because we felt like we were there for those communities over the years,” Mr Caird said.
“But we gave it everything – and it was amazing for eight years.”