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Wolf Alice call on musicians to help save venues

Ellie Rowsell, frontwoman of Mercury Prize-winning band Wolf Alice, has called for more musicians to step up in the fight to protect the UK’s grassroots venues. The singer-songwriter spoke at the start of Venues Day 2018, the conference organised by Music Venue Trust.

The sold-out fifth edition of Venues Day takes place today, with over 500 venue professionals in attendance at Islington Academy in London. Following a welcome address by Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement Jones, Rowsell urged more musicians to support the grassroots venues scene.

“I could go down to the [now-closed] Purple Turtle in Camden and borrow every piece of their equipment on their open-mic nights,” she said. “When I see these grassroots venues closing down or under threat, I worry that these authentic starts may no longer be possible.

“The music industry can’t afford to be more depersonalised – when your favourite venue turns into a Costa Coffee, it’s a loss of culture, opportunity, community and individualism.”

“When your favourite venue turns into a Costa Coffee, it’s a loss of culture, opportunity, community and individualism”

MVT says it hopes to see more musicians attending and lending their support to Venues Day 2019.

Rowsell continued: “Musicians can be one of the greatest helps of all. Last summer we toured a lot of the venues we first played in. It’s easy to forget that the venues are there cheering you on as well, and might invite you back to play when you’ve sold no tickets the first time around.”

“It’s important for musicians to recognise these acts of kindness – more should be giving back.”

Venues Day is supported by UK Music, Help Musicians, Jack Daniels, the O2 Arena and Academy Music Group. The programme includes a mix of panel discussions, presentations, working groups and speedmeeting sessions with booking agents and various specialists.

 


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Music Venue Trust welcomes two new trustees

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced that Ellie Rowsell, lead singer of Wolf Alice, and Bengi Unsal, senior contemporary music programmer at the Southbank Centre, have joined the organisation as trustees, in a bid to further expand the board’s wide range of industry expertise.

Alongside the work of the existing eight trustees, MVT hopes the welcoming of Rowsell and Unsal will expand its consideration of both artist needs and the wider cultural background of the industry.

MVT acts on behalf of the some 440 independent and grassroots venues across the UK represented by the Music Venue Alliance. Speaking of the impact grassroots venues have had on her career, Rowsell admits: “Without independent, grassroots venues I’m not sure my band would be where we are today.

“They bring originality, equality, opportunity, character and spunk to the cities they reside in and now more than ever is the time to fight to keep them going!”

“These intimate spaces offer fans an unparalleled gig experience and provide bands an essential platform to be discovered.

Echoing Rowsell’s ideas of nurturing young talent, Bengi Unsal adds that small venues provide invaluable opportunities for emerging acts: “I am very aware of the crucial role the grassroots venues play in nurturing young talent in today’s competitive music industry.

“These intimate spaces offer fans an unparalleled gig experience and provide bands an essential platform to be discovered and to grow their audiences at the early stages of their career.”

The organisation has also announced the appointment of Sarah Thirtle as co-chair to the Trust. She will act alongside fellow co-chair Chris Prosser. On her new role, Thirtle says: “I am honoured and delighted to be asked to be the Co-Chair of the Music Venue Trust, alongside Chris Prosser.”

“There are numerous challenges facing grassroots small music venues. Our vision is for this sector to be valued, invested in and thriving, securing these vital cultural spaces for our towns and cities.”

The announcement of the new appointments at MVT follow a series of recent initiatives. 2018 has seen the organisation of several regional meetings across the UK for grassroots venue owners to exchange ideas, as well as the establishment of the Fightback: Grassroots Promoter scheme, designed to help young female promoters get their first chance with a share of a £100,000 grant.

 


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