The closure of The Owl Sanctuary is a sad day for local music

We should be protecting community venues like this

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Finding a local live music venue as honest and down-to-earth as The Owl Sanctuary is becoming increasingly hard. 

In an age of cookie-cutter bands and corporate-owned venues, places like The Owl Sanctuary stand up for local bands, community and honest fun

Before settling in Norwich and starting what he calls the “social experiment” that is The Owl Sanctuary, Manager Dan Hawcroft had a background as a tour manager for such bands as Kasabian, Motorhead and Queens Of The Stone Age.

Seeing that there was a real need for “honest working-class music” and a live music scene, he decided to plug the gap in the market.

Dan believes that contrary to popular belief, you can have “good ethics and a good business model” – one which is deeply connected to not only the local music scene, but to the community itself.

Many of the bands that have graced The Owl Sanctuary over the years have been ones that other venues have shied away from – even the lemons and limes used in the drinks are sourced from the local market. Through the Norwich Soup Movement, the staff have given back to the community by routinely feeding Norwich’s homeless.

Now with the threat of closure due to gentrification, The Owl Sanctuary’s deep roots in the community are really showing. Petitions have gained thousands of signatures in a bid to save the site.

“I was overwhelmed,” Dan says: “It showed that people really got what we tried to do here.” Despite having to leave the venue, the community backing lead to an ACV being placed on the building. This means that it has to stay a pub no matter what.

When asked about the future of the venue, Dan replied: “It’s only bricks and mortar – it’s about people at the end of the day”.

With plans for a move to a new venue, and an opening scheduled for the end of February, the future looks bright – but the closing of The Owl Sanctuary means the removal of a rung on the ladder for many bands looking to play bigger and better venues, and the hole left in the music scene is not likely to be filled.

Looking at the number of bands and artists, both local and international that have played there throughout the years its a disappointing day for live music, not just in Norwich, but the UK in general.

Despite this loss, it’s The Owl Sanctuary’s contributions to the community which will be missed the most. The ability to sit back, relax and have a pint while listening to some good local music.