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MVT campaign raises almost £25k in three days

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has raised over £22,500 so far as part of its #saveourvenues campaign, which launched on Monday (27 April), in aid of 556 UK grassroots music venues in danger of permanent closure.

Following on from the launch of MVT’s grassroots music venues crisis fund last month, #saveourvenues encourages fans and artists to select a venues to support from an interactive map, which includes links to fundraising campaigns.

Artists can also receive the tools and guidance to perform a gig from their homes in support of a particular venue.

Venues listed as ‘at risk’ include the 200-capacity Green Store Door in Brighton, the 900-capacity Leadmill in Sheffield and the 200-capacity Lexington in London.

Each venue has its own crowdfunding page with a clear target of the funds it needs to raise in order to stay afloat during the Covid-19 crisis. Once that target is reached, any excess donations will go to the central #saveourvenues fund to help the wider grassroots community.

The wider fund has currently raised £22,837 of a £100,000 target, just three days into the campaign. MVT’s GMV crisis fund, which has so far raised over £182,000 thanks to significant donations from Amazon Music, SJM, artists and music fans, will be renamed the #saveourvenues fund, forming part of the same initiative.

Those wishing to support the campaign can also do so through the use of the #saveourvenues hashtag and social media templates.

“The #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive”

Singer-songwriter Frank Turner, whose recent series of performances ‘Independent Venue Love’ for local venues Nambucca in London (300-cap.), the Joiners in Southampton (200-cap.) the Railway Inn in Winchester (150-cap.) and the Forum in Tunbridge Wells (250-cap.), raised thousands of pounds, provided a “major” inspiration for the campaign.

“The UK live music industry is staring into the abyss right now,” says Turner. “The success of [my livestreamed] shows demonstrated the love that exists between music fans and their favourite grassroots music venues so the #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of building on that and hopefully giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive.”

“We are confident that we can help create real momentum that will see artists and venues working together to raise much needed funds,” comments MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “We are also calling on the wider music industry to support us too. We have received some magnificent support so far from music companies, but we need a lot more to step up and help save this essential part of the music eco-system.”

Those wishing to donate in excess of £1000 should contact Davyd directly here.

Photo: Henry W. Laurisch/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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MVT seeking grassroots “venue champions”

Music Venue Trust (MVT) is seeking the assistance of UK music fans to supply facts about their local venues. These “venue champions” will help conduct MVT’s annual survey of grassroots music venues.

The MVT venue champions will be responsible for supplying the trust with relevant information about each of the 490+ venues making up the Music Venues Alliance (MVA). One person will be appointed per venue, with volunteers encouraged to apply to become the champion of their favourite, local venue.

“We are calling on some of you that support your local venue to step forward and offer your time to help in a very tangible way,” says an MVT callout.

“We are looking for a network of volunteers to communicate with the management, staff and audiences in their favourite venue during one week in April/May 2019 to help us complete the MVT Annual Survey.”

“We are calling on some of you that support your local venue to step forward and offer your time to help in a very tangible way”

The volunteers will be responsible for completing venue audits and talking to performers and attendees at events during the survey week, from 29 April to 5 May. Venue champions will have access to all events during the week, as well as behind the scenes access outside event hours.

The trust, which represents all venues in the MVA, will use the information collected to build evidence to support the Pipeline Investment Fund, MVT’s major investment initiative with music industry partners.

Pipeline provides funding for infrastructure, sound and lights in grassroots venues. The fund also aims to place venues into protected ownership, create training and apprenticeship schemes and offer centralised legal, planning and licensing advice.

Those interested in becoming the venue champion for their local venue can apply via an online application form. Applicants must be over 18 and available to conduct the research during the week specified to qualify for the role.

 


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Petzi: Swiss clubs punching above their weight

Small music venues inject close to 100 million Fr. each year into the Swiss economy, despite being under-subsidised compared to other cultural sectors, venues association Petzi has said.

Quoted in the report from the first Conference for Contemporary Music, held in Locarno earlier this month to celebrate 20 years of the association, 24 Heures Stéphanie Arboit said Petzi’s 175 member venues play “an important social role, and bring real cultural, social and economic value” to Switzerland, in spite of receiving less funding than other, more “established” sectors.

According to Petzi, subsidies for Swiss nonprofits – which include many of Petzi’s member venues – are also lower than the European average: 29%, compared to 41%.

Nearly 2.27m people – nearly 30% of the population – attended a show at a Petzi venue in 2014

Nearly 2.27m people – nearly 30% of the population – attended a show at a Petzi venue in 2014 (the most recently available data), supporting 4,033 full-time employees, 17,321 volunteers and 21,875 performers (of which 56% were Swiss).

Hedy Graber, director of cultural and social affairs at Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund, which organises the m4music conference/showcase festival, said that while Switzerland should “rejoice at the success” of its small-venue scene, that success brings new challenges: With most clubs located in urban areas, where space is frequently tight (Switzerland has the highest concentration of music venues and festivals in the world), “questions are increasingly being asked on [issues such as] regulation, noise restrictions, smoking areas, violence and drugs,” she said.

That, Graber continued, is why it’s “necessary to have a lobby that can mobilise with force and passion on behalf of venues and festivals”.

Switzerland is the focus country for The Great Escape in Brighton, UK, next month.

 


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Keeping the lights on

But, as Eamonn Forde learns,  like-minded venue owners around the world are staging a battle to preserve music’s grassroots proving grounds

The Beatles at The Cavern and The Star Club; The Rolling Stones at The Crawdaddy Club; pretty much every British punk band at the 100 Club, The Nashville Rooms, the Vortex and The Hope & Anchor; every UK indie or alternative rock band of the past 25 years at The Water Rats, The Dublin Castle, King Tut’s and The Leadmill.

Tuning up
Without these small venues (and thousands like them all around the world), music today might be very different, and might also be nowhere near as diverse and exciting as it is. These are the tiny spaces where acts cut their teeth, learn their craft and build their following. They are, to paraphrase Malcolm Gladwell in Outliers, where bands and artists put their 10,000 hours in. But these venues are seriously under threat, for a multitude of reasons – relating to rising overheads; unsympathetic local councils; gentrification; opportunistic and avaricious landlords; noise complaints; and demographic changes.

There is, however, a vociferous backlash against these oft-iconic spaces closing and becoming little more than a fading memory.

 


Read the rest of this feature in issue 67 of IQ Magazine.

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Steve Ball: NIMBYish London needs new venues

Columbo Group founder Steve Ball, whose latest acquisition, The Barfly in Camden, will reopen as The Camden Assembly next Friday, has said more needs to be done to foster London’s nightlife if the city is to compete with other global music capitals.

Speaking to IQ, Ball poured cold water on previous predictions of a small-venue renaissance in the UK capital, stating unsympathetic local authorities and restrictive licensing laws are putting the kibosh on any true recovery for London’s club scene.

“London is a global city,” he comments. “We’re competing with New York, Ibiza… [but] most local authorities don’t want new venues. New late-night licences aren’t being granted.”

The Columbo Group – whose portfolio also includes The Blues Kitchen chain, Xoyo in Shoreditch, The Old Queen’s Head in Islington and a number of other venues, bars, clubs and restaurants – bought the 420-capacity Jazz Café (which will keep its name) in January and the 200-cap. Barfly in May, both from Live Nation/MAMA.

Despite its turning The Barfly/Camden Assembly into a “completely new venue” (“I’ve seen some grotty buildings in my time but [The Barfly] was by far the grottiest!” he jokes), Ball says he’s concerned about the lack of truly new venues opening in London. “Many ‘new’ venues were already there – they’re old venues under the new management. What London needs is new venues.”

“The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall… When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude”

Does Ball see new mayor Sadiq Khan, who has pledged his support for beleaguered superclub Fabric and vowed to make the cultural sector one of the “top priorities” for his mayoralty, as being true to his word? Or are they just empty platitudes?

“It’s not an empty platitude, but it is just rhetoric,” he comments. “The way licensing is in London means the decision lies with the boroughs, not with City Hall – and I’d argue that licensing authorities can often be backwards in their views… When you put licensing at a borough level you get a NIMBYish attitude.”

Ball points to the path taken by cities such as Amsterdam and Berlin, where venues and clubs are frequently given 24-hour licences and dedicated night mayors oversee the cities’ nightlife, as a potential way forward for London.

Khan is currently recruiting a ‘night czar’ for London – but if much of the responsibility for nightlife and licensing is still devolved to the boroughs, what will the successful candidate actually be able to achieve? “That’s a very good question!” laughs Ball.

Still, for all its licensing woes London is still a great city in which to see live music, and Ball is optimistic ahead of the opening of what he calls a “new home for music in London”.

“The young music consumer of today has very broad tastes: they’ll listen to rock, indie, grime, dance… The Assembly is going to be broad in the music it showcases”

Why ‘The Camden Assembly’, IQ wonders? “We wanted a new name – The Barfly conjures up an image of noughties indie, and the young music consumer of today has very broad tastes: they’ll listen to rock, indie, grime, dance…

“The Assembly is going to be broad in the music it showcases.”

Ball says he thinks young people are listening to a wider range of music as a “byproduct of people not purchasing music” and instead streaming it. “Before, you were really invested in something,” he explains, “because you’d bought it. But now, if everyone’s listening to the latest Stormzy record, for example, you can just check it out.”

So the Assembly is a music venue for the streaming generation? [laughs] “I’m stealing that!”

The Camden Assembly will reopen on 16 September with a seven-hour ‘pub rave’ with dance music duo The 2 Bears, followed by Mikeq, Teki Latex, L-Vis 1990 and Rushmore on Saturday 17 September and Soweto Kinch, Andrew Ashong, Binker & Moses and Laura Misch on Sunday 18th.

The venue will also host the International Festival Forum‘s Opening Party on Tuesday 27th September, which features the ITB showcase of emerging artists from the agency’s roster.

Other upcoming highlights include The Horrors’ Farris Badwan on 23 September, Temples on 25 September and a DJ set by The Streets’ Mike Skinner on 25 November.

 


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London hiring: Khan seeks his night czar

The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has made good on his promise to create a ‘night czar’ role to oversee London’s night-time economy and grassroots music venues and clubs.

City Hall this afternoon posted the official job description, which offers the successful applicant £35,000 per annum for 2.5 days a week, and is initially fixed-term for a year. Desirable qualities include a “proven leadership ability, public profile and convening power” and “thorough understanding of the night-time economy and the ability to work in a political environment”.

Khan vowed to make the cultural sector one of his “top priorities” following his election in May, and has recently been vocal in his support for Ben Lovett’s new venue, Omeara, and under-threat nightclub Fabric.

London’s small-venue scene, long in steep decline – an estimated 40% of grassroots music venues closed between 2004 and 2014 – is slowly recovering, reported IQ in June, with at least four new venues scheduled to open this year.

 


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TicketWeb to partner with UK indie promoters

TicketWeb, Live Nation/Ticketmaster UK’s ticketing platform for independent live music, has announced plans to cooperate with several local concert promoters to showcase emerging British talent.

The first partnership is with promoter/agency CloseUp Promotions, the host of Club CloseUp at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London, which will with TicketWeb hold monthly showcases at Brighton venue Bleach (150-cap.) featuring “the country’s top indie and electronic acts”.

Sam Isles, TicketWeb’s MD, comments: “TicketWeb is a passionate supporter of upcoming talent, and teaming up with Sam [Tucker, managing director] and the CloseUp team is a natural step for us. Sam is a bright, young promoter with big things ahead of him. The emerging artists that he represents will be of tremendous value to our fans who live for new music.

“TicketWeb is a passionate supporter of upcoming talent, and teaming up with Sam and the CloseUp team is a natural step for us”

Tucker adds: “Partnering up with the TicketWeb team is great news for myself and CloseUp; it will enable us to bring bigger and brand-new audiences to some of the exciting new acts we present. Our monthly joint showcases at Bleach already look set to become one of the most well-established nights in Brighton.”

The first CloseUp/TicketWeb show at Bleach is on 18 August and will include performances from The Island Club, Howland, Judas and Seats.

TicketWeb in April became the exclusive ticketing partner of east London venue St John-at-Hackney.

 


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Family festival wins £2,500 Grass Roots Bursary

Elderflower Fields, an independent, family friendly event held in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, has won ID&C’s sixth Grass Roots Festival Bursary, earning £2,500 towards its wristband and accreditation requirements.

This year’s bursary scheme launched in March and was open to any British festival that has operated for eight years or less and has an overall attendance of fewer than 15,000 people.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for us,” says Elderflower Fields organiser Stewart Balkham. “Not only does it enable money to be invested in other areas of the festival, but the ability to upgrade our wristbands will undoubtedly improve security too.

“It really feels like the icing on the cake for us to be able to provide customers and crew with lovely fabric wristbands, adding a touch of quality to festivalgoers’ experience.”

“Elderflower Fields’ dedication to the community and environment is second to none”

ID&C director Matt Wilkey adds: “It’s been a tough decision. Reading through all the applications we are filled with nothing but admiration of the dedication and hard work that goes in to making these wonderful events.

“Elderflower Fields’ dedication to the community and environment is second to none: green energy, reusable cups, local suppliers and most notably teaming up with The Real Junk Food Project [to save] unused food from landfill.”

This year’s Elderflower Fields, the fifth, features music from the London Afrobeat Collective, Resonators and beatboxer Shlomo and over 40 activities for children, and will take place this weekend (27–30 May) at Pippinford Park in Winnie-the-Pooh’s home, Ashdown Forest.