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Music venues to be the first beneficiaries of the government’s £1.57 billion in cultural COVID support

By | Published on Monday 27 July 2020

Live music

The UK government announced this weekend that the first slice of that £1.57 billion of culture-sector-specific COVID funding to be spent in England will go to grassroots music venues facing imminent closure because of lockdown.

Ministers committed earlier this month to spend £1.57 billion to help cultural and heritage businesses that are facing closure after being in shutdown for months because of COVID-19. Music venues were among those specifically listed as beneficiaries of that money when the fund was first announced and on Saturday it was confirmed that £2.25 million will be made available imminently to help save around 150 grassroots venues.

Confirming that spend, which will be administered by Arts Council England, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Without our grassroots music venues, we wouldn’t have The Beatles, Adele or Elton John. Nearly all of our globally successful music stars started out at UK clubs and live music venues – and we must make sure those organisations weather the COVID storm. The first £2.25 million of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival”.

The specific funding commitment has been welcomed by the Music Venue Trust, which has been lobbying hard for such support ever since the impact of COVID-19 first became apparent. As the months have gone by, MVT has stressed on numerous occasions that grassroots music venues – which often operate on incredibly tight profit margins even in the good times – were in need of urgent financial support in order to avoid a flurry of closures.

MVT’s Beverley Whitrick said on Saturday: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this essential funding for desperate grassroots music venues facing urgent, short term challenges. Without this help, the sector would be facing a wave of permanent closures. Throughout this crisis we have worked closely with [Dowden’s department] and are delighted that the urgent need for this intervention has been recognised and responded to”.