Government announces £2.25 million fund to save grassroots venues

Government announces £2.25 million fund to save grassroots venues

The first portion of the government’s £1.57 billion fund to protect the UK’s arts and cultural industries will be used to save grassroots music venues from closing their doors.

In a statement, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden confirmed that £2.25 million of emergency funding will be used to secure the futures of up to 150 venues across the country.

“Without our grassroots music venues, we wouldn’t have The Beatles, Adele or Elton John. Nearly all of our globally successful music stars started out at UK clubs and live music venues – and we must make sure those organisations weather the Covid storm,” Mr Dowden said.

The support package will be administered by Arts Council England (ACE) and will specifically target venues identified by the Music Venue Trust to be at severe risk of closure.

Each venue will receive grants of up to £80,000 to help them weather the impact of coronavirus across the next few months and used to cover essential costs such as rent, utilities and maintenance contracts.

Mr Dowden added: “The first £2.25 million of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival. We’re working to deliver the rest of the £1.57 billion emergency package as quickly as possible, so that we can protect and preserve our precious culture, arts and heritage for future generations.”

Speaking to NME, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd said the funding was a welcome boost to venues that have found themselves on a “cliff-edge.”

“It means they will survive,” he said.

“The great big funding pot of £1.57 billion is still on the table, but this is an advance on that. The government has recognised that grassroots venues have got extra problems, on top of what everyone else is facing.

“They’re being singled out as an area where the case has been made for urgent support right now, because some of these venues won’t make it to six or eight weeks when the bigger cultural recovery fund arrives. They need this money to get them through this period.”

Further details on how organisations can apply to the £1.57 billion package will be released in the coming days, but Davyd warned that a short application window will be in place to ensure that funding can be received by venues in the coming week.

Singer James Bay, who forged his career in independent venues, added: “It’s vital that we don’t lose any music venues. They are so important to every artist’s growth, learning how to really turn a live show from a good night to a great one. This funding is going to make a real difference, ensuring we do not lose these spaces, it’s so galvanising and uplifting to know more help is on its way.”

The welcome boost for venues follows the initial announcement of the £1.57 billion package earlier this month. The money marks the biggest one-off investment in UK culture and follows other measures taken to help companies, institutions and organisations survive during the pandemic, including loans, business rate holidays and the coronavirus job retention scheme.

Last month, more than 1,500 artists acame together to call on the government to stop “catastrophic damage” to live music as part of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign. Dua LipaLiam GallagherPJ HarveyDizzee RascalRadiohead and more signed the open letter, which read: “Government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies and the end of this great world-leading industry”.

The Music Venue Trust and over 500 UK music venues previously asked the government to provide £50million in emergency funding to “hibernate” the spaces until October.

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