Frank Turner hails support for grassroots music venues as ‘positive step’

Singer Frank Turner has hailed news that 135 grassroots music venues are to be awarded money from the culture recovery fund as a “positive step”.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that a host of “at risk” music venues will be saved by funding through the emergency grassroots music venue fund.

Launched last month, the fund forms part of the Government’s £1.57 billion culture recovery fund, and has been increased from its original amount of £2.25 million to £3.36 million.

First Government requested live show pilot
First Government requested live show pilot

Turner was part of a pilot concert last month at the Clapham Grand, to test measures ahead of the return of live music amid the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “I’m very pleased to see that the Government’s headline announcement of the Culture Recovery Fund is now blossoming into practical assistance for grassroots music venues in dire need.

“These spaces are an irreplaceable part of the live music infrastructure in this country and play a vital role in building the careers of internationally successful artists and in our culture more generally.

“There is, as ever, more to be done, but this is a positive step for sure.”

Mig Schillace, who is the venue manager of the The Louisiana in Bristol, which is in line to receive £5,500 funding, said the support would “keep us going until the end of September”.

He said it has “taken a while” for the Government to announce the support for grassroots venues.

“We are like the foundation of the whole industry, without us there wouldn’t be any bands,” he said.

“If we go then it is going to affect every other venue in the country at some point.”

Incorporated Society of Musicians’ chief executive Deborah Annetts said that while the funding is “welcome” there will still be “virtually no work for the vast majority of musicians”.

“Unless more grassroots venues are supported to address the challenges raised by recent Government coronavirus research, many are likely to remain closed and freelancers will not be able to earn a living through live performance,” she said.

Isle of Wight festival 2016
Isle of Wight festival 2016

Everything Everything bassist Jeremy Pritchard said grassroots venues gave his band “the experience we needed, taught us how to play together, and gave us the basis of a career.

“The UK’s live music industry is something to be proud of, not just fiscally but for the vital social role it plays, and it needs continued support.”

BBC Radio 6 Music DJ and Brownswood Recordings label founder Gilles Peterson said the move is providing “vital funding”.

He added: “So many people in the music world are reliant on the live music sector, and without this Government help irrevocable long-term harm threatened the world-leading UK music industry and those who rely on it for a living.”

Investitures at Buckingham Palace
Investitures at Buckingham Palace

Singer Andrew Roachford said that without grassroots venues “there will be no sustainable live music industry”.

“Hopefully enough of that culture recovery fund will be made available to the grassroots venues to ensure that this absolutely vital sector of the arts will survive and thrive,” he added.

Singer-songwriter Tom Walker said the move is “great news for the music sector and fans alike”.

“Grassroots venues play such an important role in kickstarting many careers, including my own, so it is vital they are supported,” he said.

“The welcome investment from the Government will help safeguard venues across the country so that the next generation of home-grown talent can shine through.”