Bristol music venue launches campaign to become community co-op

'We can ensure that the Exchange continues to exist as a music venue and also bring new blood and ideas into the decision-making process'

A Bristol music venue is selling shares to the public in a bid to secure its future as a community-owned co-operative.

The Exchange, in the city’s Old Market, announced last month that it was facing financial difficulties and in response has put forward the community shares offer to protect its future.

The 250-capacity venue hopes to raise £250,000 after putting shares on sale to the public on on 4 September – marked by a publicity event at the Exchange.

Matt Otridge, one of the Exchange’s three directors, said: “We are in this industry because we are music fans. At the moment, we tick along and make a little bit of money but every year people like myself are required to give up our time for free and we just can’t carry on like that.

“A venue is bigger than its directors and its future shouldn’t be tied to them. By doing this we can ensure that the Exchange continues to exist as a music venue and also bring new blood and ideas into the decision-making process.”

If successful, the campaign will see the Exchange become the country’s first community-owned music only venue. It has already gain considerable backing, with messages of support and pledges coming in from singer-songwriter Frank Turner and Geoff Barrow of Portishead.

The minimum share price of £250 entitles the shareholder to a vote at the AGM where they can influence how all aspects of the business are run, including the programme and scheduling. Shares are limited to one per investor, regardless of the amount invested, and investors will see an annual return of 3% cash or 6% in-store credit.

Since opening in 2012, the Exchange has become Bristol’s go-to venue for punk and hardcore acts. Anyone wishing to participate in its new business model can enquire about shares online.

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