Frank Turner has urged other artists to “give something back” to UK grassroots venues, after he successfully saved Southampton’s Joiners Arms from closing by fundraising via a livestreamed gig.
Last night saw Turner perform a livestreamed show from his home via Facebook Watch Party and Instagram Live, asking fans and viewers to donate. In the process, he raised well over the £10,000 required to stop the Joiners from closing as a result of the lockdown caused by the coronavirus crisis. He also raised another £10,000 to help Nambucca in London last week.
“I’m very wary of telling people what to do in general, but one of the things I want to say to other artists is that this is fun,” Turner told NME. “There are benefits to me in that it keeps people talking and if you can get 8,000-10,000 people tuning into you playing in your front room, then why not? You’re not losing out by doing something like this. There’s endless time at the moment and it’s so easy to do. I’m somewhat of a technophobe but I literally put my laptop on a pile of books, press one button to make this work and that’s it.
“None of us would have a career without these venues existing. None of us would have the music we love, so pay something back.”
#IndepependentVenueLove Volume 2!Fundraiser for The Joiners in Southampton.Love Ire & Song in full!https://www.gofundme.com/f/raising-money-for-the-joiners-staff
Posted by Frank Turner on Thursday, April 2, 2020
Turner also revealed that he was planning to play at least one livestreamed gig a week to help venues “close to his heart”.
“I was on a tour that got cancelled because of the lockdown, which was an extremely odd and surreal time,” said Turner. “It was mortifying, but had to be done, so I got home and did a livestream to raise money for my touring family, band and crew, and raised enough to pay everybody for a few months. From there, I wanted to make use of the fact that people would tune into me livestreaming to help people who deserve to be helped.”
He continued: “I started out looking to venues that I know really well, so Nambucca and The Joiners were pretty obvious ones to start with. I put the word out to other independent venues in need of help to drop me a line and a lot of people got in touch. Next week is going to be The Railway Inn in Winchester, which is another place that’s extremely close to my heart and is facing a financial cliff – so hopefully we can do something for them too.”
Speaking of the human impact of losing venues, Turner argued that “running a small venue is a business model that runs on small margins, generally from month-to-month or week-to-week” and the current closures puts them in very immediate danger – threatening “longterm and deeply profound damage” to the scene as a whole.
“Underground music and culture cannot exist unless it has somewhere to exist,” Turner added. “There are acts like me, Biffy Clyro, Ed Sheeran and Adele who needed time to incubate, find their voice, develop and grow – and we couldn’t have done that without these places existing. But it’s not just about incubating future stars, there are tonnes of bands who only exist in small grassroots venues and only ever will. They’re still absolutely valid, and if they don’t have a place to perform their art then they can’t do it. They just won’t exist anymore.
“If we care about underground music then we have to protect that facilitates the scene existing. ”
Earlier this week, the Music Venue Trust told NME that they were in need of £1million in donations to save grassroots music spaces and prevent “a disaster that will last 10 years” and called upon successful artists and the music industry at large to help.
Donations to the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund can be arranged by contacting Beverley Whitrick at firstname.lastname@example.org, by calling 07809 155388, or by visiting their GoFundMe page here.
This week it was also revealed that a £5million fund set up for UK musicians struggling during the coronavirus crisis has run out. Those who want to make a donation to the hardship fund can do so here.