The Students’ Union has today announced that the live music venue, 53 Degrees, will be ceasing to operate as a ‘high street live music and student entertainment venue’ after 31 December 2014.
Union President, Ben Latham, said: “53 Degrees has been a great asset to UCLan Students’ Union and many students, including myself, will have great memories of the events at the venue.
“However, times are changing and students’ unions across the country are being faced with the reality that the costs of both running and supporting the investment needed in a venue such as 53 are unsustainable.”
He added: “Like many students’ unions, civic and high street venues; 53 degrees faces the challenge of changing leisure habits and student demographics, developments in the music industry and the recent recession.
“I am confident however that the changes to the way 53 Degrees operates and the priority we need to give to student education, welfare and development will be understood by all who use the venue.”
His comments reflect on the fact that 53 Degrees has failed to make any significant income since it opened in 2005. And despite many high profile headliners such as The Courteeners and Example selling out the venue, competition from Manchester and Liverpool has caused these nights to be the exception not the rule.
This drain in resources, at a time when the Union has faced unprecedented commercial competition, has meant that the Union’s Board of Trustees faced a do or die situation, with reports that the continued operation of 53 Degrees in the public arena would almost certainly have seen the Union dipping into the red.
The change in student drinking culture has impacted trade and this is reflected in the fact that the volume of alcohol purchased by students’ unions’ from the National Union of Students consortium, NUSSL, is on the decline with beer and cider orders decreasing by 17.4%.
Students will inevitably be worried about the future of key events such as Freshers and a source within the Students’ Union has confirmed to Pluto that 53 Degrees will continue to host these in the new academic year. They said that a key focus was being placed on student-led activities making use of the space in the new year in line with the Union’s core activities around volunteering and student societies.
The news means that more focus will be put on Source Bar, which recently hosted the sold out Summer Survival for over 1400 students, and Mr Latham said of this: “We will continue to deliver great events for students and of course our popular Source Bar will remain at the heart of our entertainment activities.”
Closing the venue to the public will be a blow to the city with the future of the other large live music venue, the Guild Hall, already in doubt following reports that Preston City Council may end the annual £1m subsidy which could see the venue close its doors on 31 March 2015