Who we are
Lancaster Music Co-op is a non-profit rehearsal facility, recording studio and music space for the music community in Lancaster and the surrounding area.
It provides equal opportunity for anyone, from any background, any age, who wants to make music at any level and in its many forms. The Music Co- op is the centre of the local music community as well as a launchpad for upcoming & national music artists.
It is a place where any type of musician, with interests in any genre, can go to practice, write, produce, record & get together with other musicians. It provides a safe, supportive & welcoming environment where local musicians find their beginnings, where they can be nurtured – and where they can evolve.
History & Background
Lancaster Music Co-op was established in 1985 by a group of Lancaster University students who needed somewhere to rehearse. After searching unsuccessfully for existing rehearsal rooms, they realised there was clearly a local need for suitable rehearsal and recording facilities.
After they completed a business plan they approached Lancaster City Council and were offered three potential premises of which 1 Lodge Street was chosen.
In the same year they secured funding from North West Arts and other smaller grant making bodies to build three rehearsal rooms and equipped them in 1986/87.
The recording studio was built and set up by former Music Co-op director Mick Armistead. It opened in 1986, and was purchased by the Co-op two years later.
The Co-op went on to build two more rehearsal rooms and further equip them, while upgrading the recording studio and carrying out basic repairs to the building. Although the building was in a poor state, they managed to keep it under usable repair through fundraising and sharing practical and DIY skills.
They continued and grew in popularity throughout the late 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s, creating employment opportunities for creatives both within the organisation and in the wider creative industry.
Lancaster’s music scene has grown considerably over the years and the Music Co-op has remained at the centre. More recently this has seen the formation and success of the Lancaster Music Festival, now a major event on everybody’s calendar, attended by around 85,000 people with an estimated income of around £2m for the city every October. Analysis of the attendance for the Music Festival has shown that it is largely dominated by local artists (around 70%), many of whom are long-term users of the Music Co-op.
In 2003 (in the midst of long-term lease negotiations between Lancaster Music Co-op and the City Council), developers were engaged by the City Council to develop the area where the Music Co-op is located and its future was put under threat. This situation lasted around 15 years, with a number of developers coming forward with plans, putting great stress on Lancaster Music Co-op and its workers. The building gradually fell into further disrepair as the Music Co-op team were advised not to spend unduly on repairs to a building that had no security of tenure. At this point the business lay stagnant awaiting its fate and many volunteers and staff moved on.
The Music Co-op managed to keep basic services going through this time, and continued to be well used by local bands. However, the lack of stability and the worsening state of the building prevented any development activities needed to improve things. Then in 2018 when the Council took back the area to work on the Canal Quarter development ideas, Lancaster Music Co-op was served with an eviction notice.
Lancaster’s creative community rallied together and fought hard to secure the future of Lancaster Music Co-op. A petition to save the Music Co-op was signed by around 8,000 people and the matter was brought to full Council. During the full Council meeting in November 2018 councillors voted unanimously to save the Co-op, repair the building, issue a long-term lease and protect its future.