The government has been urged to provide further financial support to nightclubs during the coronavirus pandemic, amid warnings that 75 per cent of clubs could face serious hardship during the latest lockdown.
The stark warning from the Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) came hours after the whole of the UK was placed into lockdown for a minimum of six weeks, amid rising death rates from COVID-19. Speaking to NME, NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said that the entire sector faced financial ruin if support is not implemented.
“Three quarters of nightclubs will be effected dramatically,” he said. “I’ve got people who have asked me what they can do because their landlords have talked about sending bailiffs in and there’s a lot of pressure on people.”
When asked about what support specific support could be provided, Kill said that the NTIA had worked with other leading nightclub operators to develop a support package which had been rejected by the government late last year.
He continued: “Ourselves, UK hospitality, [nightclub operators] Deltic and Fabric and Ministry of Sound came together in a working group to work with the Minister for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy to present a financial package that would be suitable for the nightclub industry to sustain this period, but it was kicked out and it wasn’t allowed to go through.
“The treasury suggested they didn’t want to do anything sector specific, but we’ve got such specific requirements, particularly for nightclubs and bars.”
NME has contacted the DCMS (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport) for further comment on the rejected proposals.
Meanwhile, Kill also warned that a further lack of action will result in the “systematic” closure of venues across the UK – echoing previous fears that nightclubs faced “extinction“.
“The sad thing is that Scotland have given an £11million fund to nightclubs, and Wales have had a considered response to support for lockdown,” he said. “But I think that Westminster hasn’t done enough. Furlough is great, don’t get me wrong, but it seems like we are systematically closing down and eradicating nightclubs. I cannot understanding the thinking behind it.”
Looking forward, Kill suggested that a timeline for reopening would help nightclubs ascertain a stronger look at their future, as well as proposing potential rent subsidies.
“The big focus now is when can we open and what financial package can be put in place until we open those doors,” he said. “No one wants to compromise anyone’s safety, but the reality is that all of these businesses are in such a precarious position.
“We’re now in a position where nightclubs are really struggling and we need a timeline for what’s going to happen, as well as support until that comes to fruition.”
Kill’s comments come after leading nightclubs such as Printworks, Egg, Studio 338, Oval Space and the Pickle Factory were all denied funding in the first round of the government’s cultural recovery fund in October last year.
Applications for the next round of funding will open this week, and Kill says the NTIA will fight the corner for the future of nightlife. Club-goers are also encouraged to donate to their cause and write to their MP to ask for support using this automated form.
“We’re putting an immense amount of resources behind to ensure that businesses are supported and given as much opportunity to gain access to that £250million fund,” he said.
“There’s plenty of money there to look at, but there’s no sight at the end of this so far.”
While further funding for nightlife is yet to be announced, the government announced today that a new set of one-off financial grants will be offered to help support retail, hospitality and leisure businesses during the latest coronavirus lockdown.
It is also feared that the virus could force the cancellation of festival season for the second year in a row.