The Music Venue Trust have paid tribute to the fans and artists who have helped the scene survive throughout the coronavirus crisis – before the government stepped in with a £1.57billion arts bailout.
Last night, the UK government revealed plans for an unprecedented cash injection to help the arts, culture and heritage industries “weather the impact of coronavirus” – providing music venues, independent cinemas, museums, galleries, theatres and heritage sites with emergency grants and loans.
After COVID-19 restrictions first forced venues to close, the MVT launched the Save Our Venues campaign with a crowdfunding bid to prevent 556 independent UK venues from being lost forever. It raised over £1.5million and saved 140 venues from immediate closure.
Now with venues’ future seeming somewhat brighter thanks to the new funds, MVT CEO Mark Davyd told NME that they wouldn’t have made it this far without the support of music fans.
“The venues made it to this point because of the public and artists getting behind them,” said Davyd. “That’s the only reason we didn’t lose hundreds of venues. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the British public and music fans, and I include in that the NME for their support, coverage and asking the right questions to get the right result. We sent many NME articles to government ministers for them to read.
“Everyone’s support has proven very important not just for music but for people’s jobs and the future of the country.”
Last week, more than 1,500 artists and industry figures came together to call on the government to stop “catastrophic damage” to live music as part of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign. Davyd described the support they received as “overwhelming”, and a positive sign of what’s to come.
“We couldn’t deal with all the love,” said Davyd. “That just goes to show how much people love live music and how much we want it to come back.”
As for the MVT’s next move, Davyd said: “We’re hoping to develop the conversation we’ve been having with the government and Arts Council England. There is some concern of the ability of some venues to survive until the point where this funding is being released, so we want to find a solution and get them urgent help very soon.
“Beyond that, we need to figure out the process of getting this money out there to the venues in all regions so we’ll be working with them to do that. The devil is in the details, but this does look very, very promising. This needs to be applauded and celebrated. It’s in line with, if not better than, a lot of the things we’ve seen happening across Europe.”
Davyd added: “It is very clear that the intention of government is that grassroots music venues will receive a significant amount of this fund. They want it to get out to the regions. We’re pretty made up, to be honest.
“It genuinely does look like a very, very positive outcome to a very, very desperate situation, quite frankly.”
Meanwhile, the Association Of Independent Festivals have called upon the government for “urgent clarity” as to whether festivals will also benefit from their £1.57billion arts bailout – or else face huge losses themselves in the year ahead.