Arts Council England announce £1.5million funding for GMVs


Please click here to download the guidance notes for the £1.5 million ring-fenced funding announced on Friday for Grassroots Live Music. The fund is open for bids between £1,000 and £40,000. You can bid for sound and/or lighting, infrastructure (such as disabled access, backstage facilities) and a broad heading of resilience.

MVT notes that you can bid for programme funding but in this round of this fund we, as an organisation, strongly advise that venues don’t do that. This is because such programme funding goes directly through your venue to artists and makes little impact on your operating/management costs in the long term. Helping one artist, or a group of artists, with a one-off programming budget is great, but investment in the quality, accessibility and sustainability of Grassroots Music Venues helps every artist that plays there. We have consistently maintained that the funding that venues urgently need is about their buildings, equipment, infrastructure. Once an intervention across a number of years has increased the collective sustainability of our circuit, we would then argue that programming money should be the next phase.

We have some very important ‘guidance notes’ of our own for Music Venues Alliance venue members so that we, as a collective group, stand the best chance of both maximising this fund, through significant additional partnerships MVT has created for you, and sustaining it as a fundamental part of the support that ACE provide, By managing this fund correctly and collectively with a constructive approach, we can argue not only that it should be sustained but that it should be increased.


1. This fund has been created for your Grassroots Music Venue. Therefore you should immediately start to consider what structural, organisational, and/or physical improvements would make a difference to your venue. This money is yours. Don’t miss out on it.

2. It is incredibly important that this money is spent in full by 31 March 2020, and that throughout the process the Music Venues Alliance consistently demonstrates the value of the investment through evaluation, evidence, news stories and press. By doing that, we can demonstrate to ACE that this decision was the correct way forward and must be replicated in future years.

3. MVT has created a network of support, partners, information and guidance which we are going to make available to every single venue that wants to apply. There is no charge for this service; everything we are offering to support your venue is, as always, free. This support will add very significant value to any project you imagine and will greatly increase your chances of success and the value of what you can achieve. We plan to literally walk with you through this process and make absolutely sure that you get the support you need to make a successful application.

4. Please do not make an application without consulting with us first. If you choose not to take us up on the free support service we are offering then this entirely up to your discretion, but we want to avoid an avalanche of applications that no one expected or knew about, resulting in a chaotic funding round that risks being assessed as problematic. You are entirely independent and free to make your own choices, but we ask that you please respect the work that has been done to get us to this point by keeping us informed about when and what you plan to apply for.

5. Adrian Cooke of Arts Council England is being seconded to Music Venue Trust from Monday 20 May. Adrian will act as the fulcrum between ACE officers and MVT staff that can jointly support your application. He will be able to introduce you to the right person at ACE, identify other elements of your application on which MVT can support you, and ensure that your final application has the best chance of success.

6. Alongside the Arts Council England funding, we are in open discussions with Arts Council Wales, Welsh Government, Creative Scotland, Scottish Government and Arts Council Northern Ireland. Plainly it would not be acceptable for English GMVs to be able to access funding support that is not open to venues outside England. This point is being made very forcibly on your behalf, formed part of Beverley’s speech on Friday, and we hope to announce more details soon.

7. Arts Council England funding was not the only announcement we made on Friday. Music Venue Trust has negotiated substantial investment incoming from our Pipeline Investment Fund initiative with the live music industry which we expect will continue to expand so that it matches or exceeds ACE funding announced so far. This funding is also for your Grassroots Music Venue – it already includes direct support for you to take on an apprentice/trainee. We will be publishing more details of this soon.
Note: Notwithstanding point 6 above, Pipeline Investment Funding is open to all GMVs right across the UK.

8. Music Venue Trust will shortly be announcing specific packages of support designed to get the most from funding applications; Sound and/or lighting, disability access, infrastructure improvements and training/apprenticeships. These packages will significantly increase the value of your funding bid, making it more attractive to Arts Council England and achieving more for your venue. We have put these partnerships in place to maximise the impact of this funding.

9. DO THE SURVEY: While we aren’t making it a condition of supporting you to get funding that you complete the MVT Annual Survey, it’s much harder to justify supporting someone who wants funding but doesn’t want to put a bit of effort in. So please do the survey or the moose gets it. Click here to complete the survey now.

Write to [email protected] and state simply that you want to make a bid. Provide a good mobile number and an initial thought about what you might want to bid for.