The first tranche of funding from the government’s £1.57 billion cultural recovery package will be used to save around 150 grassroots music venues from insolvency, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has announced today.
£2.25 million of emergency funding will be used to support venues at imminent risk of collapse and it is expected to benefit up to 150 venues across the country.
This package of support is being administered by Arts Council England (ACE). The purpose of this fund is to support grassroots live music venues that were financially sustainable before Covid-19, but are now at imminent risk of insolvency, to remain solvent until 30 September 2020
The fund is open for applications from midday 25 July 2020 until midday on 3 August 2020. Venues which present live grassroots music events in any music genre, including multi-arts venues that host other events and entertainment alongside a main programme of music, and who play a significant role for their communities in developing talent are eligible to apply.
Applicants can apply for funding ranging from £1,000 up to £80,000, to cover operational costs incurred between 4 August and 30 September 2020.
The funding will be used to cover essential on-going costs for venues including rent, utilities, maintenance contracts and other bills.
The £1.57 billion package - the largest ever government investment in UK culture - announced earlier this month will be used to help support the performing arts and theatres, museums, heritage, galleries, independent cinemas and live music venues through the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: "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.
"The first £2.25 million of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival. We’re working to deliver the rest of the £1.57 billion emergency package as quickly as possible, so that we can protect and preserve our precious culture, arts and heritage for future generations."
Darren Henley, Chief Executive of Arts Council England, said: "Grassroots live music venues perform a vital role in England’s music ecology. As well as nurturing the next generation of talent across a huge range of musical genres, these are the places that spark that special connection between audiences and professional musicians. So, we’re very happy to be administering this investment on behalf of DCMS to help make a positive difference to live music venues in villages, towns and cities across the country."
Brit Award-winning singer James Bay said: "It’s vital that we don’t lose any music venues. They are so important to every artist’s growth, learning how to really turn a live show from a good night to a great one. This funding is going to make a real difference, ensuring we do not lose these spaces, it’s so galvanising and uplifting to know more help is on its way."
Beverley Whitrick of the Music Venue Trust said: "Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this essential funding for desperate grassroots music venues facing urgent, short term challenges. Without this help, the sector would be facing a wave of permanent closures. 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.”
Subject to successful trials at a number of test venues, from 1 August indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be able to take place.
In January 2020, the government increased the business rates retail discount from one-third to 50% and extended that discount to music venues. This discount was applicable for 2020/21 and for those eligible music venues with a rateable value of less than £51,000. In March, the discount for the current financial year was extended further to 100% and applicable to music venues with a rateable value above £51,000 as well.
Stelle Donnelly at Sound City 2019 / Image: Jazamin Sinclair