Music Venue Trust have launched the Save Our Venues Campaign in order to allow grassroots music venues the chance of survival after the Coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has eased.
The current climate means all live gigs are canceled for the foreseeable with the UK currently under lockdown in a bid to slow the spread of the virus and protect the NHS and save lives. But despite the many health benefits of lockdown this means music venues across the country are suffering and will continue to suffer due to their doors being shut and a lack of revenue coming in.
Without these vital independent venues, the live music sector in Britain will die. These grassroots spaces play a crucial role in the development of British music, nurturing local and rising talent, providing a much-needed platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music alongside their performance skills. These venues also play a vital role within the cultural and economic vibrancy of any village, town, and city.
Currently, there are a staggering 556 venues at risk of permanent closure across the UK, including The Sugarmill in Stoke-on-Trent. Speaking about the current pressures facing the live scene, the venue’s chief booker and promoter Danni Brownsill says: “We’re extremely proud to be a grassroots music venue. These spaces are pipelines for talent and absolute lifelines for the communities they serve and the talents therein. We cannot allow them to be consigned to the past. UK music culture as we know it will simply not exist without these spaces, so it is vital to protect them”.
In response to the current situation, artists will be performing ‘at home’ gigs in support of their local music venues, chosen from a list of venue spaces currently in crisis which can be found at the campaign website saveourvenues.co.uk. Each venue will have its own fundraising page with a clear target of the funds it needs to raise in order to stay afloat throughout this difficult and unprecedented period. Once a target is reached any excess revenue will then go to the central #saveourvenues fund to help the wider grassroots music venue community.
One of the main drivers of this initiative is the musician Frank Turner whose recent series of ‘Independent Venue Love’ shows for local venues Nambucca (London), The Joiners (Southampton) the Railway Inn (Winchester) and The Forum (Tunbridge Wells) raised thousands of pounds and provided a major inspiration for this campaign.
Speaking about the current crisis, Frank Turner said, “The UK live music industry is staring into the abyss right now. I’m not able to save the whole thing on my own, but I decided to do a series of live stream shows to raise money for specific independent venues that I know and love, and that are in serious risk of disappearing right now. The success of these 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.”
One venue saved from closure by Frank’s fundraising gigs is Tunbridge Wells Forum. Co-founder Jason Dormon said “Frank Turner has always championed the grassroots sector, having grown up and learned his craft in these venues. His generosity and commitment is truly admirable, he inspires live music fans to come together and unite in raising awareness and funds for the UK’s grassroots music venues. We were totally overwhelmed and heartened by Frank’s help and the support and generosity of the local community.”
Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd added, “Without the support of music fans and artists literally hundreds of the UK’s grassroots music venues could go out of business, never to return, in the coming months. Please help to save every single grassroots music venue in the UK so that it can reopen after this crisis and continue to be home to our musicians and our communities.”
Here is how you can get involved and help save grassroots venues across the country:
- Donate to a specific venue’s fundraising page by clicking this link saveourvenues.co.uk to see a list of local venues that urgently need help.
- Watch ‘at home’ shows by artists supporting the #saveourvenues campaign. Visit saveourvenues.co.uk to see a list of shows coming up.
- Donate to the national #saveourvenues fund via the website
- Help spread the word on social media using the hashtag #saveourvenues and the campaign link