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Academy Music Group, Ronnie Scott’s receive CRF grants

Academy Music Group (AMG), Ronnie Scott’s and London Venue Group (LVG) are among the eight arts and cultural organisations in the UK to receive grants between £1 million and £3m from the second Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) tranche.

Venue operator AMG, whose shareholders include Live Nation, will receive just under £3m (£2,981,431) to “help meet the core operating costs” of its 20 live music venues across the country, including O2 Academy venues in London, Leeds and Liverpool.

While world-renowned jazz club Ronnie Scott’s has received a grant of £1,272,631 to “explore streamed performance opportunities for emerging and established British musicians”. The club says it’s delighted that “the fundamental importance of Ronnie Scott’s” has been recognised.

And venue operator LVG, owned by Mumford & Sons member Ben Lovett, has been awarded £2,358,902 to maintain its venues Omeara (cap. 320), Lafayette (600) and recent addition The Social (250) during closure and “enable them to explore streaming options in the future”.

“We are overjoyed that we are able to ensure that all our members of staff can now look ahead to Christmas without the looming threat of redundancy, and to protect the extended Venue Group family; a team of bright, passionate, capable, industry professionals who we’ve been trying to support however possible since being forced to close our venues back in March,” Lovett wrote on Instagram.

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture”

“These grants will help the places that have shaped our skylines for hundreds of years and that continue to define culture in our towns and cities,” says culture secretary Oliver Dowden at the department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), which has been working alongside Arts Council England to disperse the fund.

“From St Paul’s and Ronnie Scott’s to The Lowry and Durham Cathedral, we’re protecting heritage and culture in every corner of the country to save jobs and ensure it can bounce back strongly.”

Elsewhere, in Scotland, 203 organisations and venues have received a share of £11.75m through the first tranche of the Scottish government’s Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund, delivered by Creative Scotland.

“The Scottish government is determined to do everything within our powers to see the sector through this crisis,” says culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

“This emergency funding will provide vital support to a wide range of cultural organisations and venues across Scotland currently facing extreme challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic. It has been designed specifically to help organisations cope with the immediate issues they are facing and to help save jobs.

“I am pleased to see such a wide range of organisations supported, from comedy clubs and theatres to galleries and production companies.”

See results from the first round of the UK’s CRF here.


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Wide Days announces programme for virtual 2020 event

Edinburgh’s Wide Days convention has announced details for its upcoming virtual conference and showcase festival, which is taking place from 23 to 25 July.

Wide Days 2020, the event’s eleventh anniversary edition, was originally scheduled to take place from 23 to 25 April, later put on hold – along with the vast majority of industry conferences and live music events around the world – due to the coronavirus crisis.

The fully virtual event sees a full three-day programme of panel discussions, keynote interviews, live performances, sector meetings, social activities and networking events.

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, the first two days of the event will feature conference sessions and showcases, with the weekend beginning with a virtual music tour, followed by the Wide Whisky Club and a Festival Takeover, featuring guest programming from Focus Wales and the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

Panel sessions will cover challenges arising from the pandemic, with topics including livestreaming, new forms of music export and the recovery of the industry. Speakers include Fly Events’ Tom Ketley, Active Events’ Lisa Whytock, the Association of Independent Music’s Gee Davy, Sound Diplomacy’s Shain Shapiro and veteran artist manager Keith Harris.

The Wide Days showcase will feature a selection of emerging Scottish talent: hip hop artists Billy Got Waves x Joell, DIY multi-instrumentalist Kapil Seshasayee, singer-songwriter Magpie Blue, post-punk duo Memes, electro-popsters One Nine and indie quartet Swim School.

“Wide Days 2020 will be an extremely important event for helping to take the sector forward, developing new talent and new ways of working”

The convention is delivered in partnership with a new digital event platform launched by Catalan company Meetmaps, allowing delegates to pre-book one-to-one meetings, hang out in themed social rooms, take part in international match-making sessions and participate in round tables hosted by event partners.

“Over the past three months we have hosted a series of online seminars and social evenings, as well as taking part in many other online events, and right across the music industry spectrum there is a strong desire to connect and learn,” says Wide Days founder, Olaf Furniss.

“At Wide Days we also want our guests to be entertained and have fun, so we will aim to translate everything we do in the physical space to the virtual environment – including the tour and whisky tasting.”

“Wide Days have done very important work over the past ten years in providing a forum for the music sector to discuss extremely difficult challenges as well as emerging opportunities,” says Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who announced a £10 million support package for performing arts venues on Friday (3 July).

“It’s great to see that Wide Days will host a virtual conference for 2020 in response to the coronavirus crisis. This will be an extremely important event for helping to take the sector forward, developing new talent and new ways of working.”

The full programme is available here, with additional panels and speakers set to be announced in the run up to the event.

Delegate passes can be purchased here, for £30. Delegates also have the option to pay-forward a ticket as part of a bursary system designed to allow those hardest hit in the Scottish industry to apply for free accreditation. Organisers will match each donated ticket.


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Scottish performing arts venues receive £10m rescue package

The Scottish government today (3 July) announced a £10 million rescue fund for performing arts venues unable to reopen due to the coronavirus crisis.

The Performing Arts Venues Relief Fund will be run by Creative Scotland, as part of a wider £185m business support fund.

The fund aims to remove the threat of insolvency for venues before the end of March 2021; allow for specialist and core staff to return from furlough or avoid redundancy to work on future sustainability plans; and increase the opportunities for the employment of freelance artists and creative practitioners.

The Scottish government also says it is “actively considering support” specifically for grassroots music venues.

“Our theatres and performing arts venues and the talented freelancers who work with them are an essential part of the fabric of Scotland’s culture and communities and promote our international reputation,” comments Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop.

“We are determined that they will survive and be able to thrive again.”

The culture secretary says she recognises that venues have experienced “an almost complete loss of income” after “effectively” having to “close overnight” with the implementation of lockdown laws.

“We will continue to urge the UK government to use their fiscal levers to back culture and creative industries with major investment”

Hyslop also notes the “difficulties” that physical distancing measures present for venues, adding that the fund “will be a vital lifeline to help performing arts venues continue to weather the storm”.

Creative Scotland chief executive Iain Munro says the “significant” fund will provide “a critical injection of cash to help meet the immediate needs of performing arts venues in Scotland”.

“[The fund] demonstrates the Scottish government’s continued commitment to culture but we also recognise that organisations and individuals working across the wider cultural sector are facing extremely challenging circumstances which, in some cases, threaten their long-term viability,” adds Munro.

The announcement comes the day after the UK live industry’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign took social media by storm. #LetTheMusicPlay became the top trending hashtag on Twitter in the UK and worldwide, and garnered the support of artists including the Rolling Stones, Iron Maiden, Pink Floyd, Celine Dion and Sir Paul McCartney, in a bid to highlight the need for government support.

The Scottish authorities say they will “continue to urge the UK government to use their fiscal levers, such as significant borrowing powers, to back culture and creative industries with major investment.”

Applicants can access these funds and find more information here. The fund is open both to organisations that are regularly funded through Creative Scotland and those that are not.


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