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Music Venue Trust urges government to cancel Festival Of Great Britain to support grassroots venue through COVID-19 crisis

By | Published on Wednesday 18 March 2020

Music Venue Trust

The UK’s Music Venue Trust yesterday called on Prime Minister ‘Boris’ Johnson to cancel the planned post-Brexit Festival Of Great Britain and redirect the £120 million set aside for that event in order to help the grassroots music community get through the COVID-19 shutdown.

The proposal came at the end of an open letter to the PM outlining many of the concerns of the grassroots music community. It echoed statements issued from by likes of UK Music and the Musicians’ Union regarding the need for more clarity from ministers in relation to the shutdown of live events and the support available for people and businesses affected by that move.

The idea for a post-Brexit Festival Of Great Britain was first mooted in 2018 and then given the green light last year. It’s scheduled to take place in 2022.

Seen by many as basically a cultural celebration of Brexit, the proposed festival has been widely criticised, given how deeply divided the country remains over the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. Plus, of course, the majority of people working in the cultural industries were very much pro-remain during the entire Brexit debate.

As the conclusion of his open letter, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd said: “The government has committed £120 million to delivering an event that no one in the public has demanded, and many sectors of the public simply do not want. It has little backing in the cultural and creative industries and is neither urgent nor necessary”.

“The entire grassroots music venue sector can be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently for just one third of the money you have already allocated to this single event”, Davyd went on. “With the remaining £80 million we would strongly urge you to create a Cultural Sector Hardship Relief Fund. That fund could take action on grassroots theatres, arts centres, community pubs, any space that is a vital hub of culture and social interaction in our communities”.

Alongside the open letter, MVT has also set up a petition allowing others in the grassroots music community and beyond to publicly support the proposal to use the 2022 festival’s budget to help music and other venues survive the COVID-19 shutdown. You can sign that here.