Delay To Culture Recovery Fund – MVT Statement

Overnight, Music Venue Trust has been working with colleagues at Arts Council England to seek to manage the delay to the decisions on the distribution of the Cultural Recovery Fund, which has been put back from Monday 5 October to Monday 12 October.

Understanding the difficulty and complexity of this process for DCMS and ACE, and the obvious need to get it right, we appreciate why such a delay may have been necessary. It is unfortunate that the need to extend was only able to be notified to applicants with just 72 hours remaining to the decision time and date.

The previous Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund, a successful £3.36 million intervention by DCMS delivered by Arts Council England that temporarily prevented 135 Grassroots Music Venues from being immediately and permanently lost, was created to enable the larger Cultural Recovery Fund process to take place. It provided critical support to successful applicant venues until 30 September. Those venues, already in very precarious financial situations, now face a further 7 days of uncertainty.

A week delay may seem, at first glance, relatively immaterial, but the previously announced hard deadline of 5pm on Mon 5 Oct for decisions on this essential funding, support which is the mainstay of the government’s approach to prevent permanent closures, has resulted in time limited agreements, both verbal and contractual, between venues and their landlords, breweries, suppliers and staff.

MVT will be working with venues throughout the weekend to try to renegotiate those agreements, and to provide confidence to all concerned that the Cultural Recovery Fund process still presents the opportunity to save a large number of Grassroots Music Venues from permanently closing.

If you are landlord, brewery, supplier or any other creditor with a Grassroots Music Venue who is effected by this delay, and you have concerns, please contact us so we can provide you with assurances about this process and its potential to support Grassroots Music Venues.

This is an extremely stressful and difficult situation for venue owners, their staff and teams. We are aware that this additional delay has caused a great deal of anxiety, loading extra challenges on to people who were already struggling to cope with the extraordinary situation the crisis has left them in. If you need help, please reach out. A list of support services is available at our website.

The UK’s Grassroots Music Venues remain in a critical position over the next two weeks. While welcoming the efforts of governments in the shape of DCMS, Arts Council England, Creative Wales & Creative Scotland, not every venue will be saved by the Cultural Recovery Funds.

Governments, to control the virus, are forced to restrict the ability of Grassroots Music Venues to trade. Activities are banned. The 10pm curfew reduces trading hours by 50%. Social distancing capacity drops their audiences by 75%. Result: Most venues cannot open. Those that can, trade at 12.5% of their normal income.

The limitations governments have temporarily placed on those venues present a very real threat that they will permanently close. Communities will lose access to live music. Artists will lose the pivotal moment that starts their careers. The foundation stone of a £5.2billion industry, the beating heart of our global reputation for music, may simply disappear and not return.

We ask again; what is government’s Plan B for ineligible venues and for unsuccessful applicants? This is a vital creative sector providing jobs, opportunities, and training for hundreds of thousands, and enjoyment to millions, of people. It needs a sector specific plan, either to protect it or to rebuild it if it collapses.

We are aware that government feels that its efforts to deliver the Cultural Recovery Fund have not received enough praise. This whole sector wants it on record that the efforts of DCMS, ACE, Creative Wales and Creative Scotland are deeply appreciated, acknowledged and welcomed.

But the Cultural Recovery Fund isn’t going to Reopen Every Venue Safely. Saving a venue in Hull isn’t going to help a community in Blackpool that loses its loved space. An artist trying to start their career in Ramsgate isn’t going to get their first gig in Plymouth.

We can’t leave communities and artists permanently locked out from live music after this temporary lockdown is over.

We need a Plan B. We need to Reopen Every Venue Safely.

#SaveOurVenues