Culture secretary promises to try to halt closures

The government today released a statement pledging to attempt to save classic London gig venues such as the Astoria from closure.

Rumours are circulating that the Astoria, in the city’s West End, is to be closed for redevelopment.

Today (December 17) the government claimed they would attempt to “ensure key music venues are not closed down in London and, if they are, to explore how suitable replacements can be provided”.

Culture Secretary James Purnell MP singled out the London venue as a priority to preserve.

“The Astoria has been home to live music for more than 30 years. Icons including The Rolling Stones, Nirvana and Radiohead have played there. In a few years it will have to close to make way for the new Crossrail station,” he explained.

Crossrail is an important project as it will support the capital’s economic growth, bring more jobs and help ensure London is the financial and creative capital of the world,” added Purnell. “But of course we know that the Astoria is one of a small handful of mid-sized music venues in central London. So I’m going to work with (London Mayor) Ken Livingstone to explore what might be done about ensuring it is replaced, and help ensure that music fans will always have a decent music venue in the centre of London.”

The measure is part of a series of new Government plans involving live music, which also involve putting £500,000 into local community music rehearsal spaces for young people over the next two years.

The plans were outlined after a new report about the state of live music in the UK made by the Live Music Forum.

The report found a drop in the amount of small music venues for which live music was not the main function putting on gigs, but confirmed live music as the fastest growing aspect of the UK music industry.

According to the report more people are attending gigs in the UK than ever before, with 28 per cent of UK adults saying they’d been to a gig in the past 12 months.