Music industry celebrates as over 1,000 venues, festivals and arts spaces are awarded CRF funding to survive until April

Fewer than 20 grassroots music venues in England are now in critical danger – with the rest of the UK to be announced soon

Hundreds of music venues, festivals, arts spaces and culture organisations in England are celebrating after being awarded part of a £257million grant in the first wave of funding from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund.

Over 1,385 theatres, museums and cultural organisations across England have benefitted from the £257million grant – the largest chunk of the government’s £1.57billion bailout fund to date, helping venue and cultural spaces to weather the storm of being forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions. At the time of publishing, 90 per cent of results were in with 89 per cent of applications from England’s grassroots venue sector have been successful so far – and less than 20 still in danger. Meanwhile, 71 per cent of the Association of Independent Festival’s applications have been successful so far.

With full-capacity gigs currently expected to return safely in April, the cash injection will help to mothball live spaces until COVID restrictions subside. This comes after many venues feared that they may “never see funding or reopen“. News on funding for venues in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland will follow in the coming weeks.


Successful applicants to receive grants include the Ministry Of Sound (£975,468), Brudenell Social Club in Leeds (£220,429), promoter and venue operator DHP Family (£908,004), Liverpool’s Cavern Club (£525,000), Islington Assembly Hall (£235,564), Clapham Grand (£300,000), The 100 Club (£491,486), Crosstown Concerts (£212,950), Manchester’s Gorilla (£255,500) and Deaf Institute (£148,000), Eat Your Own Ears (£99,066), Portsmouth Guildhall (£215,000) and Sound City (£75,000).

Other beneficiaries include Camden’s Electric Ballroom (£206,974), Hebden Bridge Trades Club (£61,723), End Of The Road Festival (£250,000), Exeter Cavern (£50,000), Leeds-based Futuresound Events (£219,368), Hackney Empire (£585,064), Hootananny Brixton (£250,000), Independent Label Market (£50,784), Inner City Music (£211,200), Lost Village Festival (£250,000), Love Supreme Festival (£118,524), SSD Music (£700,000), The George Tavern (£222,030), Brighton Dome (£493,000) and Slam Dunk (£175,981).

Check out the full list here. 

Many venues have since taken online to celebrate the news:

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The Forum is #HereForCulture We have received some fantastic news this morning. Over the summer we applied for a grant to help us get through the current situation and we are incredibly overwhelmed to say that we have been awarded with the full grant we asked for. This keeps us safe until March 2021. We are still processing the good news and will come back soon with more information about the funding. In the meantime we want to share our gratitude to @aceagrams , @dcmsgovuk & @musicvenuetrust for their ongoing support for the Grassroots Venue circuit. We may not be the largest venue in the world but alongside many spaces across the UK, we play a big role in the live music circuit for all types of artists and musicians from all over the world. The fact that in 2020, we are being recognised for our importance is such a significant change in the rhetoric and we look forward to a long and healthy relationship with all of these organisations as the conversation evolves to reflect our importance to the arts in this country! We also want to take this time to thank all of you. The Forum community! We survived the first 6 months because of YOU! Your donations, your memberships, your wardrobes (which are now filled to the brim full of forum clothing). All of your contributions got us to this point and we will be forever grateful to you. We are already discussing some cool ideas for our merchandise and Forum members… we will be in touch this week to explain what we will be doing moving forward in accordance with our mission statement of what the members club is there for. This really is a great day. This news is music to our ears! We love our forum community and we miss you so much. Love, The Forum xx

A post shared by Tunbridge Wells Forum (@twforum) on

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Delighted & grateful to announce we are the recipients of a #culturerecoveryfund grant!! We are over the moon & SO relieved!! This will enable us to survive til March 21 and continue to support our musical community. Thank you @dcmsgovuk @ukhmtreasury @aceagrams and a huge thanks to @musicvenuetrust without whom we would not be in this position!! We are not out the woods yet but this goes a long way towards ensuring the future of Green Note! We want to send extra love to the organisations who were not successful in their applications, as we know the pie wasn’t big enough for all of us. Please send love to your local venues💚! We want everyone to be here at the end of this!! 🎶#hereforculture

A post shared by Green Note (@greennotemusic) on


The Music Venue Trust, who have been fighting to stop grassroots venues from being lost forever since they were forced to close their doors back in March, welcomed the news and thanked music fans for getting behind the hugely successful #SaveOurVenues campaign.

“There’s so much good news out there, with dozens and dozens of key venues now guaranteed to survive through to April,” MVT CEO Davyd told NME. “That’s an absolute game-changer. It’s come about three or four weeks past people’s tolerance levels, but it’s incredibly positive. That’s over 200 venues funded just in the first round, and we’ve got the opportunity to save more in the second round.

“We’ve got the Welsh funding announcement coming later this week or early next, some Scottish money has already gone out with more to come, so the main pressure falls on Scotland and Northern Ireland now to see what they do.”

After declaring that they were in “critical red alert status” at the end of last month, Davyd now seems much more optimistic about the future.

“Two weeks ago we were on Red Alert — now we can honestly downgrade that because it’s only critical for a very small number of venues now,” Davyd told NME. “We’re going to take a little bit of time to understand what they need to get them through to April. The number of venues that we need to do that for is tiny — it’s less than 20 that are in urgent danger. It sounds like a lot, but it’s far more manageable to the 400-500 that we were faced with back in March.

He added: “In March we decided that we’d save every grassroots venue until they could open safely. In October, we’re now confident that with the support of the public and the whole sector pulling together, we may achieve that.”

Last month also saw Steve Lamacq call for Davyd to receive a knighthood for his concerted efforts to save the UK’s live music industry.

(Picture: Getty)

This is also welcome news to the UK festival scene, who warned that they too would be “wiped out” without government support and were at one point unclear as to whether they’d receive any government funding.

“We warmly welcome this intervention from Government and the results of the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund,” Association of Independent Festivals CEO Paul Reed told NME. “71% of AIF members who applied for a CRF grant in round one have been offered funding and it’s nothing short of a lifeline for those who have been successful. We thank DCMS and Arts Council England for this support, which amounts to almost £4.5m into the independent festival sector across our membership.

“This will have a hugely positive impact on the survival of these businesses. We are pleased that we were able to work positively with DCMS officials to ensure that festival organisers were eligible for the fund and they should be praised for their diligence in supporting the sector. We’re also aware that not all independent festivals had good news today and not all received funding. We’ll continue to support, represent and fight for our membership throughout this crisis.”

End Of The Road
End Of The Road Festival 2019. Credit: Burak Cingi/Redferns

However, while the Cultural Recovery Fund news is welcomed, many fear that workers and road crew are being “ignored” by the chancellor’s new Job Support Scheme.

“By focussing his [Sunak] criteria so narrowly on buildings which are allowed to open, the new scheme risks overlooking businesses who can technically open their doors but cannot trade economically due to the restrictions on gatherings in clubs, concert halls and arenas,” Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, said in response to the scheme.

“Revenue in the live music industry will be down a catastrophic 80 per cent in 2019 and over 70 per cent of the employees in the industry are currently utilising the furlough scheme. If the government fails to ensure that all sectors that can’t work can access the new scheme, there will be tens of thousands of additional job losses coming before the end of the year.”