London’s seven at-risk grassroots music venues speak out: ‘It’s all about survival now’

Back in July, the Government announced its Culture Recovery Fund — a humongous £1.57bn bailout to be distributed by the Arts Council in an attempt to save ailing arts institutions from extinction.

When it came to grassroots music venues, the fund provided a vital lifeline to many those getting swallowed up by the choppy waters of the pandemic. More than £41m was handed out, with almost 90 per cent of venues receiving the cash they needed.

But what about those left behind? Despite its undeniably positive impact, the fund didn’t support all of the venues that asked for money. According to Music Venue Trust (MVT), 30 venues across the nation are now at risk of imminent, permanent closure — either their application was refused outright, or they were only partially funded. In some cases, they didn’t apply at all, wrongly thinking that their business would be able to survive without the aid.

Seven of those venues are in the capital. They each told the Standard they had been given little to no feedback from the Arts Council as to why they were turned down or underfunded, and while many of them are hoping to get a slice of the discretionary grants set to be doled out by local councils, information on when (or even if) this will arrive is scant.

As such, MVT has relaunched its #saveourvenues campaign, with a specific focus on pulling those 30 venues back from the brink. Tens of thousands of pounds have been generated through crowdfunders so far, but much more is needed.

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