The idea for setting up an organisation to support queer performance came about in April 2015. At that point there had been a series of high profile venue closures, including places like Madame JoJo's and The Black Cap, as well as threats to venues such as the Royal Vauxhall Tavern. While many individual campaigns had sprung up to protect these iconic venues, there was not obvious voice for the queer performance community, nor any kind of umbrella organisation to bring people together to advocate to protected these spaces. I reached out to an amazing group of performers, promoters, producers and academics to try and bring a coalition of people from across the scene together in order to work out what could be done to fix this.
We initially worked on what things a group like this could do that would most effectively support the community, and decided that in order to be able to access resources and have political clout, that becoming a charity would be the best course of action. The group became called The Raze Collective, as it was established in response to the venues being razed, and that it brought together a diverse range of people to achieve a common aim.
We started having regular meetings in the summer of 2015 and began hosting the Queer Performers Network shortly after then. Raze was invited to participate in a meeting at the Greater London Authority to discuss the loss of LGBTQ spaces in London in December 2015, which led to our involvement in the Queer Spaces Network, which has been working with the Mayor's office and other groups to work out how queer spaces can be protected in the future.
After a series of attempts to get registered as a charity, the application we made in March 2016 was successful, and the Raze Collective came into being as a new charity.
Watch this space as we use our new status to access resources for the community and develop a programme of activities to support queer performance for the long term.