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AT-RISK VENUES SAVED (FOR NOW)

The immediate future of 135 grassroots music venues across England has been preserved thanks to a £3.36m ($4.42m) funding package from the U.K. Government. Beneficiaries include The Troubadour in London and The Jacaranda in Liverpool. 

The money comes from the Government’s £1.57b Culture Recovery Fund, £2.25m of which was allocated to venues at risk of imminent collapse due to 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, the fund has been increased to £3.36m to help as many venues as quickly as possible. 

Recipients of the fund include The Troubadour, where Adele and Ed Sheeran performed in the early days of their careers, as well as The Jacaranda, which The Beatles used as their hometown base in their early years. 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 recipients include The Brickyard in Carlisle, which has hosted a range of acts including FoalsBlossoms 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.  

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 £1.57b 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.”

Venues are now allowed to open, however, social distancing rules are making it impossible to host shows that are financially viable. The Sound Lounge in Sutton recently hosted a show at around 18% capacity, which owner Keiron Marshall told The Guardian isn't sustainable, while Royal Albert Hall in London says its capacity would be reduced to around 36% under new rules; its shows break even at around 80%. 

As such, venues are still calling for an extension to the Government’s furlough scheme, which ends in November,  to cover what will potentially be more months ahead without a level of income that sustains their businesses. 

Mark Davyd of the 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."

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