A fundraiser to save Glasgow’s Sub Club reached its goal in hours – but it’s drawn unwanted attention in the process. Usman Khushi, a director of the venue’s parent company, Outer Limits, was called out on social media for posting about taking a trip via private jet two days before promoting the #SaveOurSub campaign. Khushi has issued a statement in response.
A July 5th Instagram post showed Khushi traveling to Berlin via private jet to celebrate the birthday of superstar techno/house DJ Peggy Gou. A twitter user with the handle @parcelorogues took issue with him boasting about what appears to be a lavish lifestyle before calling upon fans for donations to help keep Sub Club afloat in a July 7th post, and a chorus of social media commentators soon followed. The Glasgow Times reports that Khushi’s family fortune was estimated at £90 million last year; #SaveOurSub’s initial crowdfunding target was .001% of that amount.
if i was a director of Sub Club moaning about not being able to access the furlough scheme and appealing for public donations, I would probably not fill my insta feed with pics of me on private jets (or be a heir to one of Scotland’s biggest fortunes 👀)
— Liam. (@parcelorogues) July 7, 2020
“What is the point of having having extraordinary wealthy people be directors and shareholders of a club if that wealth isn’t going to help the club and its staff during a crisis?” tweeted Lauren Martin of DJ Mag. “Seeing people in comments saying they’ll donate their UC money during a pandemic is upsetting.”
Some who donated expressed a desire to cancel their pledge (which Crowdfunder allows), demanding “save it yourself.” Glasgow politicians like Annie Wells and Patrick Harvie also openly criticized Khushi’s posts.
Kushi posted a response to the outcry via Instagram on July 8th, clarifying his role in the club and acknowledging the conflicting messages of his posts. He claimed that he bought into the club in 2019 with no plans to profit from the endeavor.
“I’ve never made a penny out of the club and never will – I’ve only put money in,” he wrote. “I don’t have any day-to-day involvement other than as an unpaid advisor to Mike [Grieve] and Barry [Price] who run the club and are pulling together a herculean effort to ensure it comes out the other end of this crisis.” He claimed that he donated himself at the time of the campaign’s launch.
Khushi also dismissed notions that the trip served as an indicator of his wealth. “I was a guest on a trip to Berlin last weekend where we travelled on a private plane and I shared this on my Instagram,” he wrote. “I don’t own a plane, and didn’t charter one personally, but in hindsight I can understand why these posts taken together, out of context, have caused some confusion and are insensitive, which I regret. We live and learn.”
According to The Scottish Sun, Usman Khushi holds 20% ownership stake in Sub Club with the remainder split evenly between Price and Grieve. He also serves as director of Scottish sportswear brand Tresspass. He frequently posts about his travels; among his recent destinations are Bali, Miami, Ibiza, Thailand and Hong Kong.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a shift in perspective on crowdfunding campaigns in the electronic music community. Dave Clarke remarked in an interview that Resident Advisor‘s “Save Our Scene” initiative in March should have been called “Save Our Hierarchy.” Two month later, superstar DJs like Carl Cox, Nicole Moudaber and Dubfire were called tone deaf for launching a fundraiser to support their tour managers.
At the time of writing, #SaveOurSub sits at double its initial goal with just shy of £181,000 in donations.