£2.25m of arts support package to aid survival of grassroots music venues

Some £2.25 million of the Government’s £1.57 billion support package for the arts will go to grassroots music venues facing insolvency.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) expects the money to help 150 venues avoid permanent closure – with funds reaching their targets within the next few weeks.

The money, the first to be allocated from the Government’s emergency arts package, will be administered by Arts Council England and will target venues including some identified by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) as being at severe risk.

Coronavirus – Wed Jul 15, 2020
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The funding will be used to cover ongoing costs including rent, utilities, maintenance contracts and other bills.

It will also provide grants of up to £80,000 to help venues survive the next few months.

Announcing the news, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Without our grassroots music venues, we wouldn’t have The Beatles, Adele or Elton John.

“Nearly all of our globally successful music stars started out at UK clubs and live music venues – and we must make sure those organisations weather the Covid storm.

“The first £2.25 million of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival.

“We’re working to deliver the rest of the £1.57 billion emergency package as quickly as possible, so that we can protect and preserve our precious culture, arts and heritage for future generations.”

London Music Venues – Stock
The Forum music venue in Kentish Town (Yui Mok/PA)

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Grassroots live music venues perform a vital role in England’s music ecology.

“As well as nurturing the next generation of talent across a huge range of musical genres, these are the places that spark that special connection between audiences and professional musicians.

“So we’re very happy to be administering this investment on behalf of DCMS to help make a positive difference to live music venues in villages, towns and cities across the country.”

Live indoor concerts are able to resume with socially distanced audiences from August 1 – subject to the success of pilots.

One such pilot occurred at the London Palladium on Thursday when singer Beverley Knight performed an hour-long set with an interval to a socially distanced audience.

London Palladium pilot performance
Beverley Knight during a pilot performance at the London Palladium (Andy Paradise/PA)

Earlier this year, the MVT published a list of more than 500 grassroots music venues deemed in crisis, and launched a series of fundraising gigs featuring artists including Frank Turner.

Beverley Whitrick, of the MVT, said: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this essential funding for desperate grassroots music venues facing urgent, short-term challenges.

“Without this help, the sector would be facing a wave of permanent closures.

“Throughout this crisis, we have worked closely with DCMS and are delighted that the urgent need for this intervention has been recognised and responded to.”

Rize Festival 2018
James Bay (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Brit Award-winning singer James Bay said: “It’s vital that we don’t lose any music venues.

“They are so important to every artist’s growth, learning how to really turn a live show from a good night to a great one.

“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.”

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