In Conversation with: Lara Coker

Commercial Director, Bush Hall


Love Olympia - INTERVIEW

Bush Hall has had quite the history: a soup hall during WWII, a bingo hall in the 50s/60s, a social club in the 80s/90s, and restored as a music hall by its present owners, Charlie Raworth and Emma Hutchinson, in 2001. And now, like so many other music venues, they are facing closure due to rising costs and declining spending. 

A long-time Shepherd’s Bush resident, Lara Coker, Bush Hall’s Commercial Director, tells us about some of her favourite local things and we hear details of the crowdfunding campaign they are running to save Bush Hall and their non-profit music school, Music House for Children.

Do you live in West London? If so, where do you live?
Yes – born and bred in Shepherd’s Bush. I now live in Acton.

How has the venue changed since Charlie took it over in 2001?
Westfield has probably been the biggest change to the area – we’ve seen a huge increase in footfall, which is great for the local businesses. 

White City Place has become a great extension to Westfield, offering great restaurants, activities and generally just a nice space for the locals. And, obviously, we’re excited about the regeneration of Olympia. And then there’s our end of culture on the Uxbridge Rd: there’s Bush Studios, Bush Theatre, Next Door Records and Music House for Children – there’s something for everyone.

What’s special to you about this area? 
The access to cultural activities, and the history! The Uxbridge Road boasts an incredible musical history to this day.

What are some of your favourite restaurants in the area?
I love Wild & Thyme for breakfast/brunch and Mr. Falafel.

If you are going to celebrate, where do you go?
Celebrations usually start off at The Princess Victoria, then down to Next Door Records for cocktails and a dance.

Do you have an insider local tip to tell us?
Sam’s Sandwiches, hidden in the back of Shepherd’s Bush Market

What are your favourite local green spaces/parks?
Ravenscourt and Holland Parks.

Can you tell us some spring/summer news or future plans for Bush Hall?

At the moment things are fairly up in the air for Bush Hall.

Running a Grassroots venue in the UK right now is harder than ever; music venues are currently closing at a rate of two per week (MVT 2023 annual report), with 0.5% profits across the sector and 38% of remaining venues reporting a loss of earnings.

Despite our tireless efforts, Bush Hall is now in danger of being next, so we are crowdfunding to help keep the music live. Should we be successful in our efforts, we are planning a huge programme of emerging talent, mini festivals and community engagement throughout the summer and beyond. 

Please take a moment to take a look at our crowdfunder and support/share where you can!