Lancaster University Students' Union announced last week (7 October) that it had no choice but to pause operations at its Sugarhouse venue with immediate effect due to the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.
The Union launched a trial reopening of the venue in Welcome Week, reconfiguring it to table service and with a significantly reduced maximum capacity in line with government guidance.
Unfortunately, demand for tickets for Sugarhouse events was lower than hoped, and as a result the venue was operating at a loss.
With Covid-19 restrictions in place for the foreseeable future, it has proved impossible to operate the venue in a financially sustainable way. The Union’s Trustee Board has taken the decision to close the Sugarhouse for the short term in order to preserve the venue and ensure it can serve students in the long term.
The Union will work to resume operations at the Sugarhouse at a future date when Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed to the point that the venue can once more be financially viable. We don’t anticipate that this will be earlier than September 2021.
Vice-President (Union Development) Atree Ghosh said: "We realise this decision will come as a disappointment to Lancaster students, but unfortunately the Sugarhouse, in common with many other hospitality and entertainment businesses, is unable to meet its running costs due to the social distancing requirements.
“This is a decision we hoped we would not have to take, but the Trustee Board is responsible for the financial sustainability of the Union and despite the best efforts of our staff, the venue is not viable under the current constraints on operations. I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Sugarhouse staff for their hard work and dedication to try to reopen the venue successfully under incredibly challenging circumstances.”
Union President Oliver Robinson said: "It’s important to be very clear that the Sugarhouse is not for sale. We are taking the difficult decision to temporarily close the venue now in order to secure its future. Our objective is to ensure that this important part of Lancaster life is still here for student as we emerge from the pandemic.”
All tickets sold for events this term have been refunded in full.