The move to protective ownership is a revolution
The Snug is a grassroots music venue hidden away in the heart of Atherton, Greater Manchester [UK], and for years, we have championed new and emerging artists.
We created a place that welcomes everybody, and we cater for all. Our 100-capacity, distinctively cosy living-room-style space invites the world to come in, grab a brew or a beer and relax whilst appreciating those future up-and-coming household names.
Unfortunately, our landlord put the building up for sale, and with the impact of Covid, [it sadly] meant we weren’t in a position to purchase our beloved Snug, so we turned to Music Venue Trust for advice. This was fortunate, as they were just about to launch the Own Our Venues project. We were then accepted into their pilot scheme along with eight other shortlisted venues all at risk of closure. The number of venues that applied to be part of the pilot scheme highlights how real the problems are in the grassroots music venue community.
We are overjoyed that The Snug has become the first of many grassroots music venues to be put into a protective trust with Music Venue Properties [MVP]. Delightfully, the news went viral, and we cannot express the positive impact this development has had in the local area and beyond. As further venues come under the protection of the Music Venue Trust, they will hopefully also achieve the same results and positive impact in their areas.
The protection of grassroots music venues like The Snug, offers the space to nurture local talent but also provides a platform for varied work experience for local young people interested in the music industry. The security this provides us furthers our sense of community, and the pride of ownership in our venue is immeasurable.
“Who will headline festivals when the Rolling Stones have left the planet? Let’s not forget, the Rolling Stones started in grassroots music venues”
The MVP model needs to be adopted in every country in the world. It’s heartbreaking to read how many venues have already closed and how many more are in immediate danger of closing, being lost forever. The move to protective ownership is nothing short of a revolution; a real-life story of what can be achieved when a community rallies behind its cultural treasures.
Other communities and cities can look at MVP and see a model worth building and investing in. The message is clear: grassroots music venues are not for sale to greedy commercial landlords who don’t care what the business is, as long as they can squeeze more rent from tenants while spending little to no money on maintaining or improving the buildings.
We have to ‘own our venues,’ they are the research and development departments for the future of music. They are cultural treasures for everyone. For creative people to flourish and spaces for musicians to hone their craft, obtain feedback from audiences, network with other local musicians, make new friends, or even sell merchandise to fund recording-studio time.
Grassroots music venues are essential to a thriving ecosystem of the music industry. Without these venues, there will be no more stars of tomorrow. Who will be playing the arenas in 30 years’ time? Who will be the future stars to inspire the younger generations? Who will headline festivals when the Rolling Stones have left the planet? Let’s not forget, the Rolling Stones started in grassroots music venues.
Imagine a world without music, where the next generation of musical talent has nowhere to grow and develop. This is what will happen if our grassroots music venues are not protected. The world can learn from The Snug’s journey, by realising that cultural preservation is a collective responsibility and that grassroots music venues deserve to stand the test of time.
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Ticketmaster to launch upsell option for MVT
Ticketmaster is launching a charity upsell option for the UK’s Music Venue Trust (MVT) to coincide with its sponsorship of this month’s Venues Day.
The upsell, which will launch on Venues Day (17 October) and run for an entire month, means that anyone purchasing a ticket on Ticketmaster will be given the option to make a donation directly to MVT.
The initiative will run annually, with Ticketmaster pledging to match all donations received.
“This upsell provides a practical method for fans to support grassroots music venues, and we are incredibly grateful to the Ticketmaster team for putting it in place,” MVT CEO Mark Davyd tells IQ. “Ticketmaster matching all fan donations is a powerful message for the whole industry about the support our sector needs and the will of the music community to provide it.”
The move follows Ticketmaster’s booking fee rebate launched in 2021, where venues receive a 50% rebate on all booking fees. The ticketing company has been headline sponsor of Venues Day since 2016.
“Ticketmaster has been a long-term and committed partner of MVT, and their core support has been vital in developing us as the authentic voice of grassroots venues, artists and fans,” says Davyd.
The music charity’s annual Venues Day event will take place at The Fireworks Factory in London next Tuesday 17 October. Hundreds of delegates from across the UK’s grassroots music venue (GMV) sector, representing venues throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, have already booked their places at the event.
“We need a radical intervention by everyone: the government, the music industry, artists and fans, to stop these closures”
This year’s theme, ‘Behind the Scenes’, covers workshops, discussions, presentations and networking to offer practical support to the people running venues and connect them with services that can help them.
“This year’s Venues Day is bigger than ever, with more venues attending, more delegates, more partners, and more on offer,” says Davyd. “Our goal is to match the size of the event with the size of ambitions for what is delivered on the day, and what we can bring to the sector.”
Last week saw the UK organisation announce the first acquisition under its Own Our Venues scheme. The Snug (cap. 100) in Atherton, Greater Manchester, became the first GMV to be bought by Music Venue Properties (MVP), the independent Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) created by the MVT.
Own Our Venues was launched as a crowdfunded project in June 2022 as the first step in a long-term campaign to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership.
“We believe that live music fans understand exactly how vital these venues are to the future of our whole music ecosystem and how much financial difficulty they are currently facing,” adds Davyd.
“127 grassroots music venues have closed in the last 12 months – more than one is permanently closing every week. We need a radical intervention by everyone: the government, the music industry, artists and fans, to stop these closures and turn this around.”
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Music Venue Trust seals Coca-Cola link-up
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced a new partnership with Coca-Cola which will see the drinks brand support the UK grassroots community through a series of activities.
The link-up will commence with a series of gigs organised by the charity, which represents more than 900 UK venues and has secured a 13-show headline run by indie-pop singer-songwriter Casey Lowry.
The tour will kick off at Moles in Bath on 27 September and conclude on 23 October at Camden’s KOKO.
“This is the start of an incredibly important partnership with Coca-Cola which we hope will bring support to grassroots music venues right across the country,” says MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “Every local community deserves access to an excellent live music experience right on their doorstep. This project demonstrates how MVT can work with great partners to make that happen and keep music live right across the UK.”
“We recognise that the festival artists of tomorrow need to play in the grassroot venues of today”
Fans have a chance to win tickets by buying a 500ml Coke Zero or Coke Zero Cherry at any Co-op store and scanning the QR code on the in-store display by 22 August.
“Coca-Cola has a wealth of historical involvement in music and this summer has seen us give music fans a number of epic experiences at festivals across Europe,” says Paul Hiskens, associate director, partnerships & sponsorships at Coca-Cola Europacific Partners GB. “But we recognise that the festival artists of tomorrow need to play in the grassroot venues of today and by partnering with Music Venue Trust we will help support the venues in a number of ways moving forward.
“In our first activity we have funded a series of gigs to allow venues to raise funds, alongside giving fans of Coke Zero an unforgettable night out – and hope that they continue to support these venues ongoing, as we will.”
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MVT welcomes £5m investment in grassroots scene
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has welcomed a new £5 million investment in grassroots music venues from the UK government.
Announced by culture secretary Lucy Frazer, the additional funding will be made available over two years through the Supporting Grassroots Live Music Fund administered by Arts Council England.
“There is a well-documented and evidenced crisis at grassroots level,” says Rebecca Walker, the MVT’s live projects coordinator. “We have new and emerging artists who want to tour, venues who are desperate to host them, audiences that
want to see them, but the financial obstacles have simply become too great.
“With this additional £5 million we are going to be able to work with the sector to get artists back out across the country, producing thousands of shows that simply wouldn’t be able to take place without this funding.”
“This additional £5 million is a fantastic response from the government, recognising that we have a crisis at grassroots level”
The MVT recently announced a groundbreaking partnership with Enter Shikari, which will see £1 from every ticket sold for their arena tour in 2023 go into the organisation’s Pipeline Investment Fund, and MVT CEO Mark Davyd stresses it is continuing to press arenas and stadiums to play their part in addressing the need for financial support for the sector.
“This additional £5 million is a fantastic response from the government, recognising that we have a crisis at grassroots level which threatens the talent pipeline and the future prosperity of the entire live music industry,” says Davyd. “It’s now time for that industry to step up, take responsibility, and match this government action with its own positive response.
“At the top level, we are enjoying the greatest ever summer of live music in the UK. We need to ensure that grassroots music venues share in that financial success, and that can be achieved simply and effectively through a contribution from every ticket sold at every arena and stadium event.”
The number of shows taking place at grassroots level fell by 16.9% in 2022, representing a significant threat to the talent pipeline, compounded by rising costs including energy bills, rent and staffing, and the lack of funding to meet the increasing financial demands of touring.
“The UK’s live music sector is the envy of our friends across the globe”
The government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision, launched today, aims to grow the creative industries by an extra £50 billion while creating one million extra jobs by 2030. It describes the grassroots sector as “the lifeblood of our world-leading music sector and cornerstones of communities”.
Funding for the Music Export Growth Scheme (MEGS) has also been expanded by a further £3.2 million over the next two years. The initiative, which is joint-funded by industry and government, is managed by the BPI and aims to boost UK music exports by making grants available to small-and medium-sized independent music companies to support artists’ careers in overseas markets.
Since its launch in 2014, MEGS has helped more than 300 UK artists, including Beabadoobee, Bicep, Dave, Rina Sawayama, Wolf Alice, Young Fathers, and many more across a broad range of backgrounds and genres. It has generated a return on investment of more than £13 for every £1 invested.
“The UK’s live music sector is the envy of our friends across the globe,” says Jon Collins, CEO of trade body LIVE. “However, in the face of increased energy costs, supply chain challenges, and difficulties faced by touring artists, performers and their crew, the true potential of the sector is currently being limited. The extra funding announced today to support music exports and grassroots music venues is welcome and will go some way towards helping the live music sector to bounce back to full strength.”
UK grassroots sector facing fresh Covid crisis
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has warned the UK’s grassroots circuit is on the brink of collapse in the wake of fresh government restrictions.
The organisation reports that small venues have been hit by a catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head since last Wednesday’s announcement of Plan B measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.
As a result, the MVT is calling on culture secretary Nadine Dorries to create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector, stressing that significant funding from the £1.7 billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.
“This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season,” says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick.
“Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”
It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020
The MVT says losses over the last week were close to £2 million, with 86% of venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3%) and poor sales performance (23.6%).
MVT CEO Mark Davyd likens the predicament to the early days of the pandemic.
“It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it,” he says.
“We have been here before. This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the secretary of state to act quickly.
“The government previously used business rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”
MPs yesterday voted to back the government’s “Plan B” measures to tackle Omicron by introducing vaccine certificates or negative lateral flow tests to enter venues. The move was criticised by Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) chief Michael Kill.
“We are disappointed that MPs have voted into law covid passports for nightclubs,” he says. “The NTIA have consistently opposed their introduction due to the many logistical challenges they pose for night time economy businesses and what we have seen in Scotland and Wales where they have dampened trade by 30% and 26% respectively.
“It is very disappointing that, after flip flopping on the issue twice, the government have decided to press ahead with the plans despite no evidence of their impact on transmission of the virus.”
Campaign to save Night & Day Cafe ramps up
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has revealed noise complaints have been made against more than 40 venues since lockdown lifted in July, as a campaign to protect Manchester’s Night & Day Cafe reaches 50,000 signatures.
The 220-cap venue, which celebrates its 30th birthday this Saturday, was served with a noise abatement notice on 18 November by Manchester City Council (MCC) licensing after being reported by a nearby resident.
A petition launched in support of Night & Day says the council is now threatening to close the venue, alleging it is a “noise nuisance”.
“We have met the resident a number of times to explain what we do and that nothing has changed operationally to how we operated pre-lockdown and the 28 years prior to that,” says the petition. “We ask for Manchester City Council licensing to remove our noise abatement notice and for the council to address the real issue here which is that housing with ill-considered planning and construction has been approved and built next to a pre-existing live music business.
“Over the past 15 years, flats have been built or existing buildings converted to flats around us with no real thought or consideration to the pre-existing business, building and what it does.
“We also ask not to be labelled us as a ‘nuisance’. We believe we are a real cultural asset to the city of Manchester, the North West and indirectly to the UK as a whole.”
It’s time the complaints process was changed
MVT CEO Mark Davyd told NME there had been over 40 noise complaints against UK grassroots music venues since the sector reopened en masse in July.
“With the exception of one case, all relate to complaints that the venue had resumed its normal operation; no new hours, no change of music, no increase in volume,” said Davyd.
“This is one of a raft of absurd new complaints lodged by people who apparently think it’s OK to move near to venues during a pandemic and complain when they reopen. Every noise complaint costs the venue money to defend and defeat.
“It’s time the complaints process was changed so that obviously ludicrous complaints such as this, against a venue celebrating 30 years of business, can be immediately dismissed or the venue financially recompensed for being forced to prove that the cause of the ‘nuisance’ is the new resident’s decision to move next to it.”
Sacha Lord, night-time economy advisor for Greater Manchester and co-founder of Manchester’s Parklife festival and The Warehouse Project, said he would do everything within the powers to save the Night & Day, which previously won a similar battle in 2014.
“If you choose to live next to a live music venue, don’t then complain about noise,” Lord said on Twitter. “Night & Day Cafe is a true iconic gem. I am in touch with them and will do everything I can to work with all parties, to save this venue.”
Shuttered but not silent: Venues play a role in US election
Music venues across the US have been shuttered for many months due to a lack of government support but while the stages have remained silent during the pandemic, operators have not.
In the run-up to the 3 November presidential election, the live sector has played a significant part in the campaigns.
Ahead of Joe Biden and Donald Trump’s final debate at Belmont University last week, a number of venues in Nashville teamed up with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to display political concert-style posters for the visit.
According to Vanity Fair, Exit/In, the End, the 5 Spot, Rudy’s Jazz Room, and Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge were among the venues that erected posters which read ‘Trump Lied 220K+ Died,’ in reference to the impact of coronavirus on citizens and the economy, and called the president the ‘super-spreader in chief’.
Chris Cobb, the owner and operator of historic rock club Exit/In, told Vanity Fair: “For the last eight months I’ve spent more time in politics than I did in music because of the failure of the government. It’s not something I want to continue doing.”
Adrienne Watson, the director of the DNC’s war room who led the project, said: “The music scene has always been passionate and resolute in the face of crisis—not just as artists, but as public servants,” she said in an email. “Live performance events and venues have been one of the industries hardest hit by Trump’s failure to control the virus.”
Elsewhere, Michigan venue the Blind Pig and its owner Joe Malcoun were caught in the political crossfire after appearing in a TV ad for the Biden campaign.
The ad includes photos and footage of concerts at the Blind Pig, which has hosted shows from Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Iggy Pop, John Lennon and more, as well as empty barstools to show that the venue cannot operate during the pandemic.
“For the last eight months I’ve spent more time in politics than I did in music because of the failure of the government”
In the video, Malcoun says, “This is the reality of Trump’s Covid response. We don’t know how much longer we can survive not having any revenue.”
According to The New York Times, a spokesperson for the Biden campaign said that the ad – which made its debut on 18 October during an NFL game – was removed because Malcoun and his family were “doxxed, harassed, and threatened after the Trump campaign has sought to smear [the venue owner]”.
According to The Times, the backlash is apparently due to the origins of Joe Malcoun’s wealth.
Elsewhere, a number of US venues have been doubling as polling stations including Madison Square Garden in New York, the Los Angeles Forum, State Farm Arena in Atlanta and Intrust Bank Arena in Wichita, Kansas.
Concert giant Live Nation also joined the cause, transforming over 100 of its venues into stations including the Wiltern (1,850-cap.) and Hollywood Palladium (3,800-cap.) in Los Angeles, Emo’s (1,700-cap.) in Austin, Texas, and the Buckhead Theatre (1,800-cap.) in Atlanta.
Grassroots music venues have largely been sidelined during the presidential campaign with president Donald Trump announcing he was postponing negotiations on a new stimulus package which would’ve thrown the live sector a much-needed lifeline.
The ‘Heroes Act’ stimulus package includes the Save Our Stages Act, a US$10 billion grant programme designed to provide financial support for live venue operators, promoters, producers and talent representatives in the US.
The Democratic-controlled House passed the act on Thursday (1 October) but Trump says he won’t return to the negotiating table until after 3 November’s presidential election.
Following the news, former WME-chief Marc Geiger has announced a $75 million ‘war chest’ to bail out US venues that are struggling during the pandemic and help them to reopen.
Save Our Stages Act passes through House of Reps
The House of Representatives has passed the Save Our Stages Act, a US$10 billion grant programme designed to provide financial support for live venue operators, promoters, producers and talent representatives in the US.
The Democratic-controlled House passed the act on Thursday (1 October) as part of the wider, revised $2.2 trillion Heroes Act coronavirus stimulus package.
The Save Our Stages campaign was initially launched by the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA), a newly formed alliance of US grassroots music venues, which wrote to members of the US Congress in April to ask for immediate assistance for a sector it says is facing an existential crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Subsequently, senators Amy Klobuchar (a Democrat) and John Cornyn (a Republican) authored the Save Our Stages act in July, which proposes grants of either 45% of gross revenue from 2019 or $12m (whichever is less), as well as supplemental grants of up to half the original grant if the entity is still experiencing 80%+ revenue loss as of Dec. 1, 2020.
“We’re cautiously optimistic our elected officials understand that if they assist now, we can be part of the economic renewal”
The grants could be used for payroll and benefits, rent, utilities, mortgage interest payments, interest payments, insurance, personal protective equipment (PPE), existing loans, payments to 1099 employees, and other ordinary and necessary business expenses.
Senator Klobuchar said: “We hope our elected officials come together on Covid-19 assistance in the coming days, not weeks or even months. Our small, independent businesses, which normally contribute billions of dollars to local economies, are on the precipice of mass collapse if this critical funding doesn’t come through.
“We’re cautiously optimistic our elected officials understand that if they assist us now, we can be part of the economic renewal of small towns and big cities, since for every $1 spent on a concert ticket at a small venue, $12 of economic activity is generated for area businesses like restaurants, retail shops, and hotels. This investment will pay off for communities and workers in all 50 states and Washington DC.”
The act was authored after NIVA published a survey revealing that 90% of its members said that if the shutdowns lasted six months or more with no federal help, they would never reopen.
Currently, NIVA has nearly 2,000 charter members in all 50 states, including 9:30 Club in D.C., First Avenue in Minneapolis, Chicago Independent Venue League, World Cafe Live in Philadelphia, Pabst Theater Group in Milwaukee, Red River Cultural District in Austin, and Exit/In in Nashville.
IQ Focus: The Top 10 sessions so far
Since launching IQ Focus, a weekly series of livestreamed panels that debuted in May, we’ve been inviting heavyweights from the international live music business to discuss issues ranging from the trials and tribulations of a pandemic to the systemic racism brought to light by Blackout Tuesday, and everything in between.
But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom. The Innovation Session, for example, heard panellists discuss the flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas that have come out of the coronavirus crisis. Staying Safe & Sane During Covid presented expert opinions on how to protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists. What all these sessions have had in common is a sense of optimism, opportunity and determination, as our industry forges ahead into the unknown.
This week we’re taking some time off from IQ Focus, but in the meantime, please enjoy our top ten sessions from the past couple of months and don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel to receive notifications about future IQ Focus sessions.
Hosted by ILMC head Greg Parmley, a panel comprising Europe’s festival elite discuss the collapse of this year’s festival season, as well as predictions for the next. Jim King (AEG Presents), Stephan Thanscheidt (FKP Scorpio), Rachael Greenfield (Bloodstock Open Air), Anders Wahren (Roskilde Festival) and Mathieu Jaton (Montreux Jazz Festival) update us on how they’re coping in unprecedented circumstances; what lessons have been learned, which challenges have been faced and crucially, what the road to recovery looks like.
The Covid-19 crisis has presented significant challenges for both multinational agencies and boutique outfits. From juggling investors to dealing with a hiatus from touring, agencies are being forced to reflect on how their companies are structured and seek new opportunities and creative solutions. ILMC head and session chair Greg Parmley asks an all-star panel, what comes next? Guest speakers include Angus Baskerville, (13 Artists) Jules de Lattre (United Talent Agency), Maria May (Creative Artists Agency) and Tom Schroeder (Paradigm Talent Agency).
For IQ‘s third focus session, John Langford, COO of AEG Europe, invites leading venue professionals to discuss strategies for weathering the storm, what the key learnings have been so far, and what emerging from life under lockdown might look like. Guest speakers include Lucy Noble (Royal Albert Hall / National Arena Association – UK), Olivier Toth (Rockhal / European Arena Association – Luxembourg), Oliver Hoppe (Wizard Promotions – Germany), Tom Lynch (ASM Global – UK), Lotta Nibell (GOT Event – Sweden).
While the catastrophic impact of Covid-19 continues to resonate throughout live music, the halt in normal business is seeing a flurry of innovation, fledgeling business models, and new ideas. From an explosion in livestreaming to virtual performances and meet & greets, 3D venues, gaming and tipping, what green shoots are rising from this current situation? Mike Malak, senior agent at Paradigm Talent Agency chairs our fourth IQ Focus session and invites a line-up of free-thinkers and ground-breakers.
Across the touring world, independent promoters face similar challenges when looking ahead to business post-Covid-19. While this current period presents many unique challenges for this creative and entrepreneurial sector, it’s one of many pressures they face. So what’s the state of play in Europe, South America and India? And what alternative show formats, and business models are independent promoters adopting to stay ahead? CAA’s Emma Banks hosts the session to ask, as the industry emerges from its current crisis, where the opportunities might lie?
We’re midway through what would have been this year’s festival season, and it’s a summer like no other. But are we midway through the crisis, or is there still further to go before the festival sector can confidently progress into 2021? With a number of Government support packages in place, and much of this year’s line ups transplanted to next year, how confident are promoters feeling about next year, and are artists and audiences ready to return? IQ editor Gordon Masson hosts this discussion with guest speakers including Cindy Castillo (Mad Cool Festival – ES), John Giddings (Isle of Wight Festival / Solo Agency – UK), Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive – DE), Codruta Vulcu (ARTmania Festival – RO).
One of the hardest-hit areas of the business, grassroots music venues may well also be the first to emerge from the current crisis over the coming weeks and months. Across Europe, the fate of these vital stages on which talent is born and grown, is mixed, with some facing closure. How are our small venues being protected by the organisations and industry around them, and what still needs to be done? And once their doors are open again, how different will gig going be?
Blackout Tuesday brought the industry to a standstill and thrust the topic of diversity in the music business back into view. So just what challenges do black promoters, agents and managers face, and what’s needed to counter systemic racism both within the business, in performance spaces and touring markets? Our next IQ Focus session will ask how changes can be made, and the current momentum can be maintained over the months and years ahead.
With the bulk of artists dependent on live music revenue and audience connection, the Covid-19 crisis has decimated livelihoods. But what does it mean for their managers – the individuals thrown into salvaging campaigns, rescheduling tours, interpreting contractual changes and navigating the most uncertain of futures? How are their own businesses faring? And what do they see as the challenges – and hopefully opportunities – ahead for the live sector, in what we are all optimistically calling the “new normal”.
Staying Safe & Sane During Covid considered how to best protect the mental health and wellbeing of music professionals and artists alike who are juggling disruption to working conditions, employment & financial concerns, a difficult global outlook and more. Chaired by Stacey Pragnell at ATC Live, the conversation featured Lollapalooza Berlin promoter Stefan Lehmkuhl (Goodlive), MITC founder Tamsin Embleton, tour manager Andy Franks (Music Support) and the CEO of mental health and wellbeing festival Getahead, Jenni Cochrane.
UK govt dedicates £2.25m to grassroots venues
The UK government has announced that the first tranche of funding from its £1.57 billion cultural recovery package will be used to save around 150 grassroots music venues from insolvency.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden made the announcement over the weekend, saying that £2.25 million from the overall package has been earmarked to support venues at imminent risk of collapse.
The money is expected to benefit up to 150 venues across the country and will be received by organisations within the next few weeks.
Arts Council England will administer the financial support, providing grants of up to £80,000 to help cover essential on-going costs including rent, utilities, maintenance contracts and other bills incurred between 4 August and 30 September 2020.
Eligible venues include those that present live grassroots music events in any music genre, including multi-arts venues that host other events alongside a main music programme and those that play “a significant role” in developing talent.
The fund is being launched at the request of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee, which recently urged the government to do more to support the live industry. Members of the UK live music industry had also previously raised concerns over the lack of information surrounding the distribution of funds from the rescue package, which was first unveiled at the beginning of July.
“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”
Further information on eligibility criteria and funding distribution is expected this week.
“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,” comments Dowden.
“The first £2.25m of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival. We’re working to deliver the rest of the £1.57bn emergency package as quickly as possible, so that we can protect and preserve our precious culture, arts and heritage for future generations.”
Beverley Whitrick of the Music Venue Trust (MVT) says the organisation “warmly welcomes” the funding for grassroot venues facing “urgent, short-term challenges”.
“Without this help, the sector would be facing a wave of permanent closures,” says Whitrick. “Throughout this crisis we have worked closely with DCMS and are delighted that the urgent need for this intervention has been recognised and responded to.”
MVT has also been working with the government in Scotland, where £2.2m was recently dedicated to supporting grassroots venues.
The news come as venues across the UK struggle in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, with many having to cut staff, or being forced to close their doors forever. Manchester venues Gorilla and Deaf Institute were recently saved from the brink of closure after being bought by venue operator Tokyo Industries.
Applications for the UK funding are open until 3 August. More information about the fund and how to apply is available here.
This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.