Sister Midnight, on a mission to create an accessible grassroots music venue and community pub, will launch a community share offer on September 20 in a bid to raise funds to buy the Ravensbourne pub on Lewisham High Street.
The group, formerly a music venue in Deptford, established a not-for-profit community benefit society, Sister Midnight Community Venues Ltd, earlier this year and is aiming to raise at least £500,000 in share capital.
Total project costs (purchase costs plus refurbishment) would be in the region of £3,000,000. Grants and loans would also be used to fund the project. (More details here.)
Lenny Watson, the driving force behind the initiative, says £500,000 is the minimum Sister Midnight needs to raise to move forward. “It would give us the chance to fund deposits and raise loans from banks.”
The shares on offer would be community shares that can be issued by cooperatives and community benefit societies.
They would pay a modest level of interest. Members can withdraw shares after a certain time and get their money back.
The minimum share subscription would be £100 and the maximum £100,000 or 10% of the total raised, whichever is the lower. Shares would pay interest of 3% a year from year 2.
A limited number of affordable £25 shares will be made available to encourage members of the local community to participate
Sister Midnight are looking to buy the freehold on the Ravensbourne which was closed in 2016. The property includes the pub and flats on the upper floors, which would provide an additional income stream once let.
Lenny admits the target is ambitious but she is confident Sister Midnight can reach it. “Our initial consultation showed there was a lot of interest out there … and the owners (of the Ravensbourne) are keen to sell.”
Sister Midnight says that by saving the Ravensbourne Arms and bringing it into community ownership they can preserve an important local asset and create a thriving community hub that supports the wealth of creative musical talent that Lewisham is home to.
The launch of the share offer will be followed by an all day fundraiser with live music and DJs at the Fox and Firkin on Lewisham High Street. Tickets £10.00. Details at https://www.sistermidnight.org/