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COVID-19 grassroots venue fund in London gets £450,000 boost from mayor

By | Published on Friday 1 May 2020


The mayor of London Sadiq Khan yesterday announced a £2.3 million emergency fund to support venues and other creative businesses in the UK capital at risk of going under as result of the COVID-19 lockdown. It includes a £450,000 contribution to the Music Venue Trust’s #saveourvenues fund.

Announcing the new funding, which is supported by an investment from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Khan said: “The coronavirus outbreak is having a significant impact on every aspect of life in London, and that includes our culture, creative industries and night time economy. These industries are so important to the fabric of our city during the day and night, and they will play a key role in helping us to recover from this public health crisis”.

In addition to the £450,000 for grassroots music venues, the mayor’s scheme will also support LGBTQ+ venues via a partnership with the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum; the tenants of 200 artist studio workspaces via an alliance with the Creative Land Trust; and a number of independent cinemas via a tie-up with the British Film Institute.

The funding will be targeted at those most likely to go out of business as a result of the COVID-19 shutdown and those unable to benefit from UK government support schemes. Though, the mayor added, the government itself should be seeking to fill the gaps that currently exist in its economic response to the pandemic.

Khan went on: “I’m pleased to be working together with the Music Venue Trust, the LGBTQ+ Venues Forum, the Creative Land Trust and the BFI to offer this emergency funding to those areas most at need, but we need the government to step forward and provide the comprehensive support this industry needs to protect its future”.

Confirming its support for the initiative, Jemma Read – Global Head Of Corporate Philanthropy at business media firm Bloomberg – said: “The coronavirus pandemic risks the continuity of thousands of London’s cultural and creative institutions and with it, the vitality and prosperity of our city. We are proud to be working alongside the mayor of London and many of our long-standing philanthropic partners to protect the future of London’s dynamic arts industry”.

The £450,000 for music venues will help MVT to significantly ramp up its support efforts in the capital. The organisation’s Beverley Whitrick told reporters: “Music Venue Trust works on behalf of grassroots music venues across the whole UK but the greatest concentration of our members is in London. These venues are some of the most impacted by the current crisis because the costs of running a venue in London are so high”.

“This funding from the mayor of London”, she went on, “means that MVT will be able to increase the support on offer to each and every venue, dedicating invaluable human resources, specialist advice and financial assistance where other measures come up short – everything possible to sustain these venues so they can reopen in the future and host artists and audiences safely and professionally”.

Although, while the mayor’s scheme is definitely great news for grass roots venues, MVT also pointed out yesterday that there is still much work to be done to ensure hundreds of venues around the UK don’t go out of business as the COVID-19 shutdown continues.

“This significant funding is a major boost to the efforts to ensure that venues across the country will be able to return after the end of the crisis”, it wrote on Facebook. “But we still need you. There are hundreds of venues right across the country that are facing permanent closure and it’s our community that can save them. Artists, music fans, venues working together, we can do this”.

Find out more about the #saveourvenues campaign here.