A campaign to save 30 of the UK’s most at risk music venues from permanent closure has reached 10 per cent of its fundraising target, but organisers stress that “there is still much much more to do.”
Earlier this month, the Music Venue Trust launched the #SaveThe30 campaign to highlight the plight of the spaces left in the cold from the government’s £1.57billion Cultural Recovery Fund, in a bid to raise money and awareness to stop them from being lost forever. Organisers have said that support has been overwhelming as they edge closer to their £1,750,000 target, while urging music fans to donate to the cause if they can or write to their councillor or MP to ask for their help in saving their local venue.
Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd told NME: “£160,000 has been raised in the first six days, and we’ve since reached a total of over £200,000. We are obviously delighted but there is still much much more to do.
“The government has published its national plans for discretionary funding available to local councils to support vital businesses at significant risk in their communities. Each one of the #SaveThe30 venues is such a business, and we again encourage every musician and music fan to speak up for the venues in their local communities that could benefit from the discretionary support available.”
He added: “Keep sharing, keep donating if you can, but most important of all, take direct action with your local representatives to make sure they are using all the powers and money at their disposal to prevent the loss of any one of these 30 grassroots music venues.”
— Boom Leeds (@boomleedsvenue) November 11, 2020
Ian Leck is owner and manager of Boom in Leeds. He told NME that his venue weren’t eligible for the Cultural Recovery Fund and now face an uncertain future.
“We’re on red alert and we face imminent closure because we’ve got substantial debt with our landlord and we’re in a pretty dire situation,” said Leck. “Without additional funding, the venue will have to close down.
“We’ve had an overwhelming amount of support from the audiences who attend shows at Boom and the bands that play here. Leeds City Council have said they’ve had hundreds and hundreds of letters, our MP Hilary Benn has said he’s had loads of people get in touch, Richard Burgon is another Leeds MP who actually comes to a lot of our shows and has written to say he wants to help. It’s still early days, but we’re hoping all of this comes to something.”
As well as a venue, Boom also offer a permanent rehearsal studio, a mixing and mastering studio, and hub for many local micro-businesses. Leck said that they were a one-of-a kind venue in the UK and that the loss of Boom would have a knock-on effect for many people in the area.
“We’re a proper grassroots, DIY punk venue,” he said. “We host everything from up and coming local bands to international touring artists that could play huge venues but choose to play here – because we’re the best place to play. If we close, it would be a huge loss to the international touring circuit and the local community.”
Leck added: “If you’re in a position to donate then please do, but if not then please share our story with your friends and family. Get the message out there. Just spreading the word is enough. We’re making some noise and we’re getting heard.”
MUSIC VENUE TRUST ANNOUNCE ‘TRAFFIC LIGHT’ CAMPAIGN TO SAVE ALL GRASSROOT MUSIC VENUES STILL IN CRISIS
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— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) November 11, 2020
Chris Jones, co-owner, engineer and bookings manager of The Woolpack in Doncaster, told NME that his venue got a small amount of money from the first round of hospitality grants and a bounceback loans, but were ineligible for the Cultural Recovery Fund and now find themselves at risk of losing their building due to mounting costs and no income.
“It’s a bit of a rough one at the minute, we’re at the end of our tether money-wise,” Jones told NME. “Our landlord has been trying to sell the building for a while now, and now because of what’s going on he’s trying to rush it through and sell it from under us. We’re trying to deal with that while trying to survive through the #SaveThe30 campaign as well.
“We’re one of the few places around here, if not the only one, who puts on every type of band. We play everything from folk music to blues, electronica, rock, metal and punk – the entire gamut. No one else puts on as much diverse or local stuff as we do.”
He added: “Now there’s a very real danger we’ll close. We’re trying to work with lawyers to keep the building. We’re grateful for any support that we get, whether that’s a donation or people just talking to their MP.”
See the full list of venues here with links to support each venue through Crowdfunding or other initiatives here, and find details of how to write to your local councillor and ask for their support here.
Meanwhile, The Music Venue Trust yesterday released a statement in response to the British government’s latest coronavirus measures, asking them to reconsider “specific challenges” they present to grassroots venues while calling them “inconsistent and illogical”. The UK’s nightclubs have also warned that they face “extinction” without government support and clarity.
While recent funding welcomed for venues, many fear that workers and road crew are being “ignored” by government schemes. Many industry spokespeople representing musicians, crew workers and other freelancers and self-employed continue to call for a tailored sector-specific support package to help them survive until full capacity live music can return in 2021 – including a ‘Seat Out To Help Out’ scheme.