The Friends of the Joiners Arms (FOTJA) is a campaign group that is working to create queer spaces within London and beyond. On their website, they state that they want to “open London’s first community-run LGBTQI+ space and want to help reverse the pattern of mass closures of queer venues.”
FOTJA was originally formed in 2014 to save The Joiners Arms, a pub in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, after announcing the venue was closing in 2015 and to be turned into flats and offices.
Originally, the group campaigned against efforts by developer Regal London - especially after the development group promised to pay £100,000 to secure a pop-up bar to act as a stopgap for the demolition and redevelopment. However, Regal London failed to pay this money due to delays caused by the pandemic.
Since the fight to try and save The Joiners Arms, the group has been trying to raise £100,000 in a fundraising campaign launched this summer. This response was described as a “fightback” against the closure of queer venues around the UK.
FOTJA has raised over £30,000 since the weekend and could now become the UK’s first community-run LGBT venue after the group said that a temporary venue in Hackney or Tower Hamlets to open a not-for-profit bar.
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The group managed to exceed its fundraising target by asking people to buy shares in the new venture, one where they hope to host drag nights and music shows. The original deadline for the target was tonight (August 2) at 8:PM.
The Joiners Arms was an LGBT pub and venue and was a hotspot for icons such as Alexander McQueen and Christopher Kane. The campaign by FOTJA received support from figures such as Joe Lycett and Stephen Fry.
FOTJA's chair Amy Roberts said to the BBC: "We're ecstatic and we can't wait to see the dream become a reality. It's incredible, we have been so blown away by the support we've received!”
As The Guardian reports, comedian Joe Lycett said: “Queer spaces are hugely important and under constant threat, so when I heard about the Friends of the Joiners Arms initiative to open a new one I was so delighted.”
Aneesa Ahmed is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter