The founder of Proud Camden says he  “would have done anything” to avoid closing the music venue after 17 years.

Alex Proud, 48, set up the nightspot and art gallery in Stables Market on Chalk Farm Road in 2001, hosting stars such as Amy Winehouse, Florence and The Machine and Ed Sheeran, who is said to have played his first live gig there. It relocated to the market’s former horse hospital in 2008. It will close on March 4 and a music venue from restaurant and nightlife tycoon Roger Payne, who is behind celebrity hangouts Gilgamesh and Shaka Zulu, is coming in its place.  

Mr Proud, who will open a 750-capacity cabaret club on Embankment later this year and a new venue in Camden,  said landlords were trying to sanitise the area and warned it could become “just another Shoreditch or Mayfair”. He told the Standard: “I wish I could have stayed, I would’ve done anything — it’s my soul and home. The new venue is exciting but at the moment I’m pretty sad and depressed.” 

He claimed he offered his landlords £1 million, more than double his rent, to stay. This was rejected because, he said, they wanted something “fresh”.

“They told me Proud is tired,” he said. “They said they wanted fresh ideas, which of course is missing the point. It might have been old, but it was still working. And people were loyal to it for that reason.”

A spokesman for Camden Market said: “Having been part of Camdens constantly evolving nightlife scene over the last few years, it is important that we continue to adapt, modernising the market with fresh content and continuing with the restoration and improvement works that need to be completed on the listed building that houses Proud. It will remain a live entertainment venue with a fresh, updated look. We are committed to continuing to be a part of Camden’s world renowned reputation as a music hub for local and international musicians alike and will continue to play host to a variety of performances. We wish the Proud brand every success in their new endeavours.”

Alex Rayner, from Mr Payne’s Camden Dining group, said the new venue, Fest, which is due to open at the end of next month, would be “polished and exciting” . He described it as “a venue for the Instagram age, with pop-up experiences, live music and great food”.

Article form the Standard

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