Save Grappa's Cellar - Performing Arts Venue Not a Food Court

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(English version is below the Chinese)

位於怡和大廈地庫的歌柏絲(Grappa's Cellar)不單止是一所餐廳,更是香港碩果僅存的重要藝術表演媒介。

屹立中環近二十年的歌柏絲餐廳,一直致力推廣文化、慈善、社區節目。它著迷之處,是其獨特的斷層平台設計,足以容納近三百五十人作不同類型的活動。而它座落於中環心臟地帶,卻又隱沒於地庫柳暗花明間之「秘境」,免除了噪音投訢的潛在問題,亦突出了其不可取替的特殊優勢。

怡和大廈業主香港置地近期有意將地庫改劃成飲食廣場,歌柏絲餐廳亦因而在今年七月三十一號約滿後不獲續約。

曾於歌柏絲餐廳舉辦的節目不可悉數,而且類型繁多。有駐埸定時演出的爵士樂團如Victoria Jazz Band、也有本地獨立樂隊如廿四味;有著名棟篤笑諧星Al Murray和Tom Green、也有格林美得獎者Lee Ritenour和Ernie Watts; 有在YouTube 成名的OK Go、也有香港首席爵士結他手包以正等。

Karen Tong 是香港搖擺舞(Hong Kong Swings)的創辦者之一。歌柏絲餐廳自2006年起,便一直支持搖擺舞、藍調舞等在餐廳內舉行定期社交聚會。Karen在Change.org發起了公開聯署,希望這個獨一無二的場地可以保存下來。

歌柏絲的特色令其可以兼容爵士、藍調、搖滾等音樂表演,也可以舉辦其他藝術交流、棟篤笑、分享會等活動。餐廳若果如期結束營業,香港將難免會失去一個難以取締的藝術文化平台。

Grappa’s Cellar is not just a restaurant, but an important performing arts venue in Hong Kong. A great supporter of live music in particular, it has hosted numerous cultural, charity and community events for the past 20 years. The things that make it special - its classic style, medium (350+) capacity, and Central location in the basement of Jardine House (which means it does not suffer the noise complaints that plague most performing arts venues in the city) - make it impossible to replace.

Hongkong Land has decided not to renew its lease when it expires July 31. The apparent reason is for a “change of concept” – and the plan is to turn it into a food court.

We urge Hongkong Land to consider the cultural significance of the Cellar, and make good their own sustainability pledge to Arts and Culture, which states on their website:

Hongkong Land proudly hosts and sponsors a series of cultural events and art exhibitions, with the objective of developing an appreciation for arts and culture and enhancing the communities around our buildings
We also support a wide range of cultural events that enhance the lives of people in the community.”

and describes itself as a “key patron of public art in Central”.

Our three main requests to Hongkong Land are:

1.       To renew the lease of Grappa’s Cellar.

2.       To allow Grappa’s Cellar to maintain its menu and concept.

3.       For future lease renewals, to consider the cultural importance of the Cellar to Hong Kong as a special performing arts venue and supporter of local community causes.

Saving Grappa's Cellar has particular significance to me as it is home to Hong Kong Swings, an organisation I co-run and co-founded. Since 2006, we have at Grappa’s Cellar offered weekly, free swing dance classes and socials, often together with live jazz bands. We introduce and educate the public about this art form of jazz music and dance and provide an important hub for community to gather together every week.

I truly believe the Cellar is unlike anywhere else in Hong Kong and its removal would be a great loss to the arts and general community. Places like this are extremely rare, and extremely needed.

I urge you to join us to persuade Hongkong Land to Save the Cellar by signing this petition and also donate to support our campaign. Every little bit helps!

Donation link: https://chuffed.org/project/save-grappas-cellar

Please also share with your friends and hashtag #savegrappascellar together with #HKLand

If you would like to offer to help our campaign in another way, please get in touch with us at savethecellar@gmail.com .

Performing arts, charity and community events hosted by Grappa's Cellar in its 20 years at Jardine House have included -

Overseas artists:

Musicians:
Grammy award winners Lee Ritenour and Ernie Watts
Georgie Fame, godfather of the UK jazz and RnB scene
Bands put on by Clockenflap managing director Justin Sweeting:
Jose Gonzalez, Caribou, OK Go, Ratatat , Andrew Bird, British Sea Power, Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Swim Deep, The Wedding Present, Tortoise, Olafur Arnalds, Dirty Projectors, Emilie Simon, Ra Ra Riot, These New Puritans, Yacht, And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Mystery Jets, Young Knives, The Secret Machines, The Album Leaf, Dengue Fever, You Say Party We Say Die, Handsome Furs

Some others: The Jezabels, The Damned (famous UK punk band), The Professionals, Yelle, Saosin, Chris Barron (singer the Spin Doctors), Dolores O’Riordan (singer of The Cranberries).

Comedians: Al Murray and Tom Green among the most famous, and many more from overseas. Phill Jupitus and Andy Parsons perform May 2019.

Local artists:
Cantonese:
24 Herbs, Danny Summer, Joey Tang, ToNick, RubberBand

Jazz/blues/motown: Big Band Express, Eugene Pao, Bobby Taylor, Anders Nelsson, Sybil Thomas, Pete Moore’s Martini Nation, The Stray Katz, the Victoria Jazz Band, Island Express Jazz Orchestra, Allen Youngblood, Henry Chung, the Anthony Fernandez Big Band, Ginger Kwan, and many more.

Rock/indie bands: Blink & Studs, The Red Stripes, Last Orders, Dr Eggs, Phantom Power, Shumking Mansion, The Lovesong, Clementine Is My Sunshine, DP, The Yours, Quan, Poubelle International, Jing Wong, Of Moths and Stars, Logo, Choi Sai Ho, Corey Tam, Murmur, and many more…

Finance Live, featuring bands of people in the finance community, with over 300 people from the finance community in attendance.

Charity/Community Events at Grappa’s Cellar, include:

Filipino Community:
Events most Sundays, often sponsored by Filipino businesses. They provide a platform for young Filipino entrepreneurs and allow people to come together and have a good time. They have also hosted Filipino comedy shows.

 One Visayas Hong Kong, a Filipino non-profit organization holds festivals celebrating Filipino culture and tradition, and beauty pageants.

Nepalese Community: Fashion show for Sense of Click, a Nepalese company in Hong Kong who showcase collections from designers in Nepal, and provide a platform for aspiring Nepalese models. There's a clip of the event here: https://www.instagram.com/p/BjADdNmD94j/?igshid=zun1zjjw678g

Operation Santa Claus
Money Talk Charity Breakfast
– Dec 2017 and 2018, breakfast and live broadcast of RTHK’s Money Talk program, with fundraising and auction with proceeds to OSC charities.
Closing ceremony – Jan 2017 and 2018 bringing together sponsors, donors and supporters of OSC and its 14 charity partners.

Feeding Hong Kong
Benefit Concert – Jan 2018, featuring three local bands, with ticket sales to charity.
Pizza-making party – Sep 2018, 50 people, parents and children from underprivileged children in North Point and To Kwa Wan came to Grappa's Cellar during Mid-Autumn Festival holiday for a day of free food, games, and a special pizza-making lesson by Grappa's chefs. With volunteers from Feeding HK, Missions to New Arrivals, and DLA Piper.
Annual Volunteer Gathering – Nov 2018, Grappa’s hosted a night of free food and drink for 190 volunteers and partners of Feeding HK, including many from major companies in Hong Kong.

Finance Live – Nov 2018, organized by the Henley Executive Hedge Fund. Over 300 members of the finance community come together for a night of live music and fundraising for specific charity partners (this time the partner was Suits for Success). Grappa’s Cellar donated 20% of the night’s drink sales to the charity. Four Finance Live events have been held with plans to keep it going.

ESF's Got Musical Talent - Jan 2017 and 2018, ESF school students perform in front of parents and other students. Proceeds from ticket sales, and other funds raised through the event, go to the PTA of the Jockey Club Sarah Roe School, to support children with special educational needs and also to promote awareness of, and raise funds, for Special Education Needs within ESF in general.

Irish Ceilidh Dance Night - Nov 2017 and 2018, Irish Ceilidh dance performance by students, with audience participation. Ticket sales went to assisting the Celtic Bauhinia Troupe expenses and Echoes of Erin student dancers travel to the Ceilidh-dancing World Championships.

Phantom Power Charity Show – June 2018, Canadian concert to raise funds for Gord Downie and Chanie Wenjack Fund, devoted to building relationships between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples of Canada.

 

and so many, many others…