Biffy Clyro’s Simon Neil on protecting grassroots music venues: “We’re losing a generation of talent”

"If the government doesn’t get it right, we’re losing one of the UK’s most valuable assets"

Biffy Clyro‘s Simon Neil has praise the cultural value of grassroots music venues, warning that the government must remain vigilant to prevent closures across the UK.

The frontman also warned that a “generation” of talent will fail to emerge if venues are not available for them to hone their craft in the formative stages of their careers.

“If venues disappear, we’re losing a generation, if not more, of talent,” Neil told Music Week.

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“Be it a hip-hop star or a rock band or an electronic act, that’s how the next generation blossom. If the government doesn’t get it right, we’re losing one of the UK’s most valuable assets. The music that comes from this small island is, across the board, astounding. There’s generations of kids that are going to lose opportunities from study to job opportunities, we cannot fucking rip the culture away from them as well.

“All they have is this expression. Yes, airlines are important, but should they get bailed out before the fucking culture of the country? No, I don’t think so.”

Neil’s stark warning came after the government announced a £1.57 billion cultural funding package earlier this month to secure the future of venues across the UK.

Stressing the need for greater support, Neil went on: “The government [have been] treating it like a leisure activity, like it’s a fucking hobby or something. This is a defining characteristic of our country. One of the few things to admire about our country is the culture and most of these fuckers in the government won’t have been to a gig or a show ever.

“Maybe Gary Barlow doing an acoustic performance for a charity and that’ll be the closest… They did not see Eyehategod at the Limelight in Belfast! But they need to. That’s the fucking problem. The government are saying, ‘We can have the crowd six metres away’ and ‘band members three metres away’ – are you fucking joking? Have you ever been in a venue? If everyone’s playing an arena, maybe!”

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Last week, Hull venues The Welly and The Polar Bear announced their closure after entering administration due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Manchester’s Gorilla and The Deaf Institute also announced plans to shut, but they have since been saved after a buyer stepped in to secure their futures.

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