Hull venues The Welly and The Polar Bear are set to close

Coronavirus continues its stranglehold

The Welly and The Polar Bear music venues in Hull are set to close along with ticketing outlet, Hull Box Office.

The news comes as two of the six companies comprising UK event and venue management company, VMS Live, entered administration due to the impact of the coronavirus.

As a result of the insolvencies, the 600 capacity venue The Welly and the 200-capacity venue The Polar Bear, which VMS took on in 2018, as well as Hull Box Office are closing down.


IQ reports that the remaining four VMS Live companies, which operate/book venues including Eventim Olympia Liverpool (1,960-capacity), Asylum in Hull (1,100-capacity) and the William Aston Hall in Wrexham (1,200 capacity), will continue to operate as before.

In a statement, VMS CEO Bert van Horck said: “I am deeply saddened that we had to make this decision, following the completion of the yearly accounts, the announcements of the government and the bank reconciliation, which lead us to be at immediate risk of trading whilst insolvent.

“I would like to thank all of our staff on behalf of Kate and I for the magnificent efforts made to try and save these two companies, both between September and March during normal trading and beyond into the Covid-19 enforced closure.”

Music Venues Trust said of the news: “The Welly and The Polar Bear are vital components of Hull’s thriving independent scene, and sit at the very heart of Hull’s reputation as a music city and destination.

“We have been warning for months that the situation faced by grassroots music venues was unsustainable and would result in the closure of spaces that people love and artists need unless there was concerted strategic action. That action must now be accelerated to prevent hundreds of other venues from being lost right across the country.”

“We understand that the future of both spaces as grassroots music venues may be salvageable, and we strongly urge Hull City Council to bring together all stakeholders in the city to see what can be done.”

Hull-based band LIFE added that they are “devastated” by the announcement, and tweeted: “In 2017 prior to our debut album, we embarked on a tour that saw us sell out downstairs @giveitsomewelly This is what it looked like. The government needs to recognise the contribution venues bring to the local, national and international music industry!”


The news comes as Manchester’s Gorilla and Deaf Institute venues also announced today (July 16) that they will be closing their doors for good.

Manchester’s Gorilla is to close for good (Picture: Alamy)

Gorilla on Whitworth Street and the Deaf Institute on Grosvenor Street have been unable to weather the storm caused by the pandemic despite the government’s recent £1.57billion bailout for venues and arts spaces.

“The Deaf Institute and Gorilla have been at the forefront of the music scene in Manchester for many years and it is with great sadness that we announce that we will not be reopening,” Roy Ellis, Mission Mars CEO and founder told Manchester Evening News.

“This difficult decision has been made against the backdrop of COVID 19 and the enforced closure of all of our sites and with continued restrictions upon opening of live music venues.”