Alex Proud, CEO Founder of the Proud Group of venues talks about what inspires him
Alex Proud has always been inspired by what looks fun, or interesting. He looks for what hasn’t been done, and what he feels should be done and that singular focus has lead him to cross art forms and genres and has led to several reinventions.
Alex Proud came to fame with the Proud photographic gallery where he decided to focus uniquely on rock photography because in his words:
“there were all these incredible archives of work from rock and roll history and no-one was celebrating the photographers, and I thought ‘Why not?!”.
Proud gained a reputation for being ‘really good’ and ‘really cool’ – but Alexander Proud insists that his motivation was always born from a genuine love of the work and clearly a burning desire for novelty and intellectual challenge.
Alex Proud jumped from art collector to cabaret club owner over a decade ago when he opened Proud Cabaret. Alex says that he recognised that there was a largely forgotten art in cabaret and burlesque that had lost its audience in London, and he thought:
“this is something unique and it deserves a platform. I guess, my inspiration is a moveable feast, it’s art, creativity, it’s London itself.”
More recently, Alex Proud was forced to reinvent his business again when he lost the lease on his infamous music venue and the heartland of London’s most rock and roll bands: Proud Camden but he count opening his new flagship West End venue, Proud Embankment as his proudest moment yet.
“It was the hardest, and boldest move we’ve made so far. It took real guts from everyone in the business. We were established at Proud Camden, the heart and soul of a local and loyal community and we had to move our base to the centre of London, the most competitive city for the nightlife industry, where a new concept opens every week. As a group, we had to learn fast, and we have only grown stronger because of it. I’m so proud of what we’ve achieved at this amazing and truly iconic venue: a superclub on the bank of the Thame, with a double height atrium for jaw-dropping circus cabaret stunts, and a massive 750 capacity for unforgettable parties and club events. There’s honestly nothing like it in London.
Alex Proud feels that the essential component to the Proud Group’s success is that they never stand still:
“we innovate and we are motivated by passion not by profit. So we are always having fun. That… and a lot of really hard work.”
And it’s that hard work that has seen Proud stay in business throughout Covid-19’s multiple lockdowns. One of the only West End venues to re-open last Summer, Proud is now open again and serving sell-out audiences attracted by its celebrity lead line ups, alongside world class entertainers, and award winning circus, acrobatic and burlesque acts.
As Alex Proud notes, it has taken a lot of work to get here:
“We have invested in our flagship venue Proud Embankment and in all our iconic, heritage buildings to add capacity and enable us to host some of the biggest shows London and Brighton have ever seen. We’ve relaunched our dining offering with a Michelin trained Executive chef: Antonio Vacca creating an exquisite Asian-Fusion menu, and we are already almost sold out for our opening months. We are only getting bigger and bolder; there is no-one like us.”
Alex Proud isn’t shy about blowing his own trumpet, but after 2020, any business owner still holding his own probably has a right to feel slightly smug, plus Proud does own some truly incredible and unique venues. All Alex Proud’s venues are in iconic buildings styled by an in-house team from the superluxe 750 capacity Proud Embankment, and the illicit underground speakeasy at Proud City, recently modernised and upgraded through to the intimate and quirky space of Proud Cabaret Brighton, set in the old Hanbury ballrooms. Proud has preserved the heritage of these beautiful places, and recaptured the decadence and glamour of a former age combined with the biggest and best cabaret shows in the UK.
Alex Proud has always said that if you come to one of his venues you’ll have an unforgettable experience and at the end of a year many people would love to forget, we could all do with more unforgettable moments.