Grants of up to £80k for music pubs

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Reopening unlikely: news of Government support for grassroots music venues will be welcome news for sites such as the Fiddler's Elbow in north London
Reopening unlikely: news of Government support for grassroots music venues will be welcome news for sites such as the Fiddler's Elbow in north London

Related tags Property Entertainment coronavirus Music Health and safety

Grassroots music venues at immediate risk of permanent closure will receive £2.25m emergency funding, the Government has announced.

It comes as pubs that have previously thrived on their intimate settings for gigs said they would find it impossible to stage live music performances under the Government’s present guidance at a profit, when permitted from 1 August.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) said the first lot of a £1.57bn support package for cultural organisations​ would be used to ensure the survival of some 150 music venues.

Grants of up to £80,000 will be provided to music venues that are at a severe risk of insolvency to cover essential costs such as rent and utilities.

The funding will be administered by Arts Council England (ACE) and the Music Venues Trust will identify a number of venues for the funding.

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.”

Reopening not viable

Dan Maiden and Nancy Wild own the Fiddler’s Elbow in Islington, north London, which they describe as a music venue with a pub set-up. Without the pub’s pre-lockdown rosta of 28 bands a week, the pub on its own would trade at around £40 a day, according to operator Dan Maiden.

Maiden told the Morning Advertiser​: “Logistically and economically, it's not viable to reopen until possibly there’s a vaccine.”

Under the Government’s social distancing guidance for live performances​, the operator said he would be putting on shows with just 10% capacity, including the bands and bar staff working.

He added: “Those people would need to be drinking a hell of a lot of alcohol."

For many music pubs, social distancing and discouraging of dancing and singing – activities that could mean the aerosol transmission of coronavirus – are the antithesis of what their events are about. This spells an extended period of closure for sites such as the Fiddler's Elbow.

Maiden explained: “When you're in a small venue when the whole point is to get sweaty and dance around next to each other.

“If you’re doing it [reopening shortly], then you’re doing it wrong. If it's a [small] venue like ours, you would be doing that virtually illegally, it's irresponsible.”

The Government said businesses would receive funding within the next few weeks and further details on how they could apply for the funding would be released this week.

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