Rapper Novelist and industry groups welcome £2.25m aid for small music venues

Mercury Prize-nominated rapper Novelist has welcomed the Government’s “vital” £2.25 million support package for grassroots music venues.

The 23-year-old musician, from Lewisham in south London, said small venues were “the bedrock of the music industry” and offered new artists a chance to develop and build a fanbase.

The funding is the first tranche to be allocated from the £1.57 billion support package for the arts and is expected to help 150 venues avoid permanent closure.

Coronavirus – Thu Jul 9, 2020
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden announced the news (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA)

Responding to the announcement, Novelist said: “Grassroots music venues are the bedrock of the music industry, offering a real opportunity to develop your skill as an artist as well as cultivate a good fan base.

“Providing this vital funding to maintain the lifeblood of these types of venues will most certainly have a big impact for artists’ development, as well as the way in which people interact with music.

“Small venues are a vital part of British culture and it’s so important to preserve the heritage for future generations to come.”

He added that for those in remote areas small venues were “literally a treasure”.

London-based hip hop, jazz and electronic duo Blue Lab Beats called for the music sector to embrace the funding “with open arms so we can save our venues for the future”.

They added: “We should also remember the people that run these venues and the live music workers that also need assistance-without them the venues mean nothing.”

Brit Award-winning singer James Bay said: “This funding is going to make a real difference, ensuring we do not lose these spaces, it’s so galvanising and uplifting to know more help is on its way.”

TRNSMT festival – Glasgow Green
James Bay on stage (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Founder and chief executive of the Music Venue Trust (MVT) Mark Davyd said the immediate funding was “very welcome and desperately needed” while the industry waits for further details about how the £1.57 billion will be distributed.

A number of the venues that will benefit from the funding were previously identified by the MVT as being at severe risk of insolvency.

Mr Davyd added: “We will be working closely with grassroots music venues across the country to ensure that this money reaches those in need and has the largest impact.

“This interim solution will provide a short term fix for those venues identified as being in crisis but we urgently need information and guidance on when and how venues can access the larger fund, which is so vital to safeguarding their longer term futures.”

Tom Kiehl, acting chief executive of UK Music – which represents the industry’s commercial interest, also called for more details on how the arts package would be spent.

“Grassroots music venues are the lifeblood of the music industry,” he said.

“They enable musicians and creators to cultivate their skills, artists to grow their fanbases and allow music fans an opportunity to see their heroes perform live.

“In normal times they face many challenges, yet Covid-19 has meant this foundation of the music industry is on the brink of collapse.

“UK Music is very grateful to the Government for making this much needed support available and asks that forthcoming details of the full £1.57 billion cultural package ensure all those at risk in the music industry have an opportunity to benefit.”

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