135 at-risk grassroots music venues receive emergency grants

Grassroots music venues across England are the first recipients of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, as announced by the Culture Secretary on 22 August 2020.

Recipients of the fund include The Troubadour in London, where Adele and Ed Sheeran performed in the early days of their career, as well as The Jacaranda in Liverpool, where The Beatles played early rehearsals and one of their first gigs.

The £3.36 million Emergency Grassroot Music Venues Fund is being shared among 135 venues across England who applied for support to survive the imminent risk of collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic. In response to the demand for help from some of the hardest hit in the sector, and to ensure the support would be felt far and wide, an additional £1.1 million was also brought forward, increasing the fund from the original announcement of £2.25 million.

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: "This government is here for culture and these grants today show we are determined to help our exceptional music industry weather the covid storm and come back stronger.

“Grassroots music venues are where the magic starts and these emergency grants from our £1.57 billion fund will ensure these music venues survive to create the Adeles and Ed Sheerans of the future.

"I encourage music fans to help too by supporting music and cultural events as they start to get going again. We need a collective effort to help the things we love through COVID."

The accelerated funding has been delivered by Arts Council England in under a month to save grassroots venues previously facing insolvency. The emergency grants of up to £80,000 will cover on-going running costs incurred during closure, including rent and utilities, so that some of the country’s most vulnerable venues can survive.

CEO, Arts Council England, Darren Henley, said: "This much-welcomed emergency investment from the government into grassroots music venues will have a profoundly positive impact on England’s music ecology, and today’s news will mean a great deal to the many artists, audiences and communities they serve across the country. I’m pleased that the Arts Council has been able to use its expertise to administer this fund, ensuring that we are supporting music venues in these challenging times."

The fund will support The Sunflower Lounge, one of the oldest music venues in Birmingham, and Night People in Manchester, home to Northern Soul and club nights as well as live performances and DJ sets. Other successful recipients include The Brickyard in Carlisle, which has hosted a range of acts including Foals, Blossoms and Biffy Clyro since it opened in 2002, and The Louisiana in Bristol, where Florence and The Machine was among the acts that performed to small audiences there at the start of their careers.

The full list of recipients of the Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund can be downloaded in an Excel spreadsheet here.

Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust, said: "We warmly welcome this first distribution from the Culture Recovery Fund which will ensure that the short term future of these venues is secured while we continue to work on how we can ensure their long term sustainability. Both DCMS and Arts Council England have worked very quickly to fully understand the imminent risk of permanent closure faced by a significant number of grassroots music venues across the country, and the funding they’ve brought forward creates a real breathing space for under pressure venues."

Frank Turner, singer-songwriter and ambassador for the Music Venue Trust, said: "I’m very pleased to see that the government’s headline announcement of the Culture Recovery Fund is now blossoming into practical assistance for grassroots music venues in dire need. These spaces are an irreplaceable part of the live music infrastructure in this country and play a vital role in building the careers of internationally successful artists and in our culture more generally. There is, as ever, more to be done, but this is a positive step for sure."

Gilles Peterson, Brownswood Recordings, said: "This is vital funding for the cultural sector that is being hit the hardest by COVID. So many people in the music world are reliant on the live music sector, and without this government help irrevocable long-term harm threatened the world leading UK music industry and those who rely on it for a living."

Indoor performances can now restart with socially distanced audiences so music venues are able to reopen safely, alongside other culture venues and heritage sites.

Music venues are also eligible to apply for a share of £500 million in grants being delivered to cultural organisations by Arts Council England, which is accepting applications until 4 September. More information here.

Organisations across the arts and heritage sectors are encouraged to apply for funding designed to support the cultural sector’s recovery and beyond.

Independent cinemas whose businesses have been unavoidably disrupted will also be able to apply for grants up to £200,000 from the British Film Institute. Heritage sites at risk were able to apply for a share of £92 million available in grants through the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Historic England.

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