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The Lexington still in perilous position despite receiving Culture Recovery Fund grant

By | Published on Wednesday 14 October 2020

The Lexington

The music industry was, in the main, very pleased with the number of venues, festivals and other music organisations that were awarded COVID-support grants via Arts Council England’s Culture Recovery Fund on Monday.

However, the spotlight is now inevitably falling on those music businesses whose bids for CRF funding were unsuccessful. Although, in some cases, even those organisations that did get a CRF grant are still facing significant challenges, such as popular London venue The Lexington.

The Culture Recovery Fund is distributing a significant portion of the £1.57 billion of sector-specific COVID support that has been provided by the UK government to the cultural and heritage industries.

The funding aims to help those cultural companies and organisations whose operations have been majorly hit by all the restrictions that are in place to slow and limit the spread of COVID-19. With the government’s general COVID support schemes changing this month, in a way that makes them much less useful to live and event businesses, for many of those companies and organisations support from the Culture Recovery Fund had become vital in order to survive into 2021.

With that in mind, there were concerns over quite how many companies and organisations the CRF could really support, and whether those more mainstream music businesses that wouldn’t usually seek or receive Arts Council funding would be successful in their bids. But in the end, a significant number of venues, festivals and other music organisations did get a grant.

The Association Of Independent Festivals said that, of its members who applied for funding, 71% were successful. For the Music Venue Trust, 90% of its members’ applications resulted in a grant.

That came as a relief to many – although, of course, that still means there are plenty of festivals and venues who were unsuccessful. And of those who received grants, not everyone got all the funding they were seeking.

As London venue The Lexington explained on Facebook yesterday. “Like many grassroots music venues this week we’re happy to announce that we secured funding from Arts Council England’s Cultural Recovery Fund”, it wrote, adding: “These funds will go some way in mitigating the financial damage and debt accumulated over the last seven months of closure”.

However, it went on, “unfortunately, we were awarded under 40% of the funding we applied for, one of only a small number of grassroots music venues who received a lesser amount than needed to ensure recovery and survival. Whilst the funding received is welcome and we’re delighted to see friends and colleagues across the industry receive a vital lifeline, from our perspective the recovery of the venue and the long term survival of our staff and freelancers is still in serious peril”.

With that in mind, work remains for The Lexington to find a way of covering the other costs it is incurring as a result of the ongoing COVID restrictions.

Noting the key role the Music Venue Trust has played in securing government support for grassroots venues at large – including the grant it did receive from CRF – the London venue concluded: “We’ll be spending the coming weeks working with Music Venue Trust to work out a way to meet this funding shortfall and secure our long-term future. Watch this space”.

When criticised over its revamped general COVID schemes being no use for many live and event businesses, the government has repeatedly pointed to the Cultural Recovery Fund and the other ways that that £1.57 billion in sector-specific funding is being distributed around the UK. Which is depressing for those companies and organisations who have not received any or enough CRF funding.

Though for its part, MVT has often stressed that – while significant government support is absolutely essential for the survival of the grassroots venue network – it was unlikely to ever be a panacea, and therefore artist, industry and community-led fundraising will still likely be necessary.