Grassroots venues in the UK are calling for £1million of donations and funding from the more successful corners of the music industry and huge artists in order to prevent closures and “a disaster that will last 10 years”.
Music venues are currently in a very perilous position, following the nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus – after Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for pubs, bars clubs, restaurants and the like to close in the name of public safety.
As gigs, festivals and tours continue to be cancelled, the Music Venue Trust had previously called for the 2022 Festival Of Britain to be pulled to fund measures to protect their grassroots spaces.
While the government has pledged millions in loans and grants to such spaces to help them survive through temporary closure, the MVT claim that this is not enough; putting over 550 Grassroots Music Venues at risk – along with the threat of the permanent loss of over 5,000 jobs, over 100,000 concerts, over 300,000 performances by musicians, and over 1million temporary employment opportunities for gig economy workers. Now, they’re looking for £1million to fund their emergency response service so that each venue can receive individual help to stay open.
“We’ve been surveying all our venues for weeks, done all the maths, and worked out that despite the intentions of the government and the work that everyone else is doing, we have a £13.8million hole,” Music Venue Trust CEO Mark David told NME.
“The government have done a lot and we’re not having a go at them. We realise there’s a huge crisis going on here for everybody and that the likelihood of us getting any additional funding from government to plug that hole is almost zero. A rent-free period is something that will have to be done to protect businesses, but in the absence of that what we have an emergency response service.”
Their emergency response service is a network of professionals across the country who can provide help and advise to the venues. Now, they’re looking to increase the number of people in the service to save the venues that face the risk of permanent closure in the next eight weeks. If that fails, funding can be used to directly financially bail out the venues.
“Touch wood, but I genuinely think we can save all of these venues – but we really need this fighting fund,” Davyd told NME. “We’re talking about funding from the music industry’s most successful companies and most successful artists. We have some other ideas about how smaller artists can help their local venues, but this specific call is about something else. If we lost 550 grassroots music venues, we would permanently cripple the UK music industry for the next 10 years.”
He added: “In this atmosphere, people think that this is all over people are suddenly going to open grassroots music venues. That isn’t going to happen. Every one we lose is going to be permanently lost. We’re talking about 84% of the sector shutting down.”
Davyd revealed that over the last year, their emergency response service has won 91 of its 96 cases to prevent venues from closure, and that the other five are still ongoing. While the industry at large is in turmoil, he argued that longterm damage could be prevented if action was taken now.
“Everybody has problems right now, even our most established artists – we know that,” he added. “Turning up with another ask at this point is difficult, but at some point everybody has to think about what this might look like when all of this is over. If we wake up the day after this is over and over 80% of our venues have disappeared, we are talking about a disaster that will last 10 years.
“We’re seeing the damage done by huge festivals and tours being cancelled, but in between all of that, we are asking all of these major companies and our biggest artists to help. We need £1million. That’s it. Give us £1million and we’ll give you a reasonable touring circuit.”
Donations to the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund can be arranged by contacting Beverley Whitrick at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07809 155388.
This comes after a campaign was launched for music fans to buy a ‘virtual pint‘, with all proceeds going to keep venues alive.
Today also saw former Labour MP Tom Watson announced as the new head of UK Music – vowing to to secure the future of the music industry during the coronavirus crisis.
“In ordinary times, the UK’s commercial music sector contributes £5.2 billion to the UK economy and supports 190,000 jobs,” said Watson. “The cancellation of live music events has devastated the sector. Thousands of jobs are now in peril and threaten the long-term bottom line of the UK economy.”
He added: “I will be seeking urgent talks with ministers and officials to ensure that we support the music-makers of Britain and the industry that always sustains us through the good times and the bad.”