Music venues have spoken to NME about the need for public support to weather the storm of coronavirus closures.

Grassroots music venues from across the UK have spoken out about the continued need for public support to ensure their survival, despite government funding providing a temporary lifeline for many.

Last weekend, the government announced the first 135 venues across England that will receive emergency grants from the £1.57billion Culture Recovery Fund. While this news is welcome among the music community and regarded as a huge “positive step”, around 400 others are not out of the woods yet – with many not eligible for the funding to help them weather the storm of being forced to close due to coronavirus restrictions. The #SaveOurVenues campaign remains very much active and in need of support.

The Big Moon live at Hebden Bridge Trades Club. Credit: Visionhaus/Corbis via Getty Images

Tunbridge Wells Forum are warning that they won’t know if they’ll receive any money until October – and even then, nothing is certain.

“The general public think that all of these venues have been saved,” the Forum’s booking manager Chris Pritchard told NME. “The government’s media perspective probably wants it to look like that because they definitely have helped, but they’ve not found a secure solution for it. They’ve just put a plaster on it. Some have just got some emergency funding to get them through to the end of September, but then they’ll be in the same predicament they’re in now in October.”

While the Forum was not eligible for the previous round of funding, Pritchard said he was concerned about how competitive it is for financial aid from here – despite “amazing and admirable” help from the Music Venue Trust.

— tunbridgewellsforum (@twforum) August 22, 2020

“We’re really happy for those venues that did get that money – especially the newer and smaller ones,” Pritchard said. “We’ve got 27 years of history where some have got seven months. We’re in a more fortunate place where we have that community around us, but we need everyone to know that nothing is guaranteed. There’s no guarantee that venues will see funding, and even then there’s no guarantee that funding will keep venues open.

He continued: “People need to understand that it’s not a done deal and we’ll see quite a lot of venues disappear this year, unfortunately. Music Venue Trust are doing everything they can to save each and every one and that’s an amazing thing to see.”

However, Pritchard did advise others to find proactive temporary solutions outside of looking for donations from fans. “I would encourage all other music venues to think outside of the box in terms of ways to make money,” he said. “We suddenly went from being a music venue to a clothes store. I’ve been designing and putting out merchandise on a monthly basis and we’ll be launching a new range in October. We also set up a coffee shop outside of our building as we try to create revenue. We’re also setting up membership clubs with ticket discounts for when to reopen.

“We’ll be able to see ourselves through the next two or three months, but beyond that we need to see funding from the arts council.”

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