In an increasingly divisive world we can at least rely on music to pull people together with a unified interest. But that needs places and spaces for bands or DJ’s to do their thing and for us to go join them. The alarming rate of closure of clubs is already documented on our blog but the same “disease “is now eating away at our live music venues. Music venues, besieged by local authority intransigence, pub closures and a touch of apathy, are closing at an alarming rate.
Music venues range from the traditional Pub with a capacity of 50 through to the arenas that can house thousands. It is the smaller venues that are being hit hardest. Devoid of corporate sponsorship or ticket sales for manufactured bands and artists, it is the smaller venues that are suffering. The irony is that traditionally it has been the smaller venues that have launched some of the best British music acts. Take Coventry’s Hope and Anchor pub, sadly demolished in 2013 after years as a live music venue and attributed with launching the career of The Specials and The Enemy or The Boardwalk in Sheffield credited as the Launchpad for the Arctic Monkeys and The Clash.
Other venues closed in recent years include Kentish Town’s the Bull and Gate, which helped the careers for over 30 years of top bands including Coldplay, Nirvana and Blur in their early stages of fame. Madame Jo Jo’s, was another venue closure, described as ‘legendary Soho nightclub’ by the Guardian. The venue was an extravagant red-and-gold underground space presenting burlesque, cabaret, club nights and magic shows.
The small venues are the obvious feeder stations for the latest bands. Starting out in a local pub, working men’s club or community centre with friends, family and whoever you can muster to a headcount of 50 can be part of the whole process. From there with the right noise from those who attended and the energy of the band and their inner and outer circle the next gig might build to 100. It’s a gradual process as each gig attracts a bigger crowd and the band/artist moves up through the venue league from small to medium and on to the more familiar places like Koko in London or The Leadmill in Sheffield.
Not only are these music venues essential for the bands of tomorrow but they also act as a centre point for community providing contacts for musicians, DIY groups and activists. Take SWG3 in Glasgow, a studio complex housing artists and turning into a venue when required (Skepta was there back in May 2016 ).
This pessimistic message of venue closures is presented as a serious challenge to the industry and the development of emerging British talent.
With this in mind, Music Venue Trust was set up in 2014. It is a listed charity with the aim to preserve the UK live music system, through safeguarding the future of iconic grassroots music venues.
Music Venue Trust boss Mark Davyd noted in NME: “What’s happening to our music venues is an emergency which should concern every music fan, every musician and everybody working in the music industry in the UK.”
But what exactly is it they do? Music Venue Trust’s new initiative, Emergency Response is a way for establishments to receive legal advice and opinion on issues such as planning, development, noise and licencing issues. It has been set up with the sole purpose of avoiding venue closure.
Initial legal advice on matters such as these are usually estimated at £2-£5,000, therefore the work that MVT achieve for venues could not be accomplished without continuous support and public funding.
In the short two-year period of the charities’ formation, Music Venue Trust has accomplished a great deal. This has been achieved through campaigning, attending conferences and pretty much through the charities proactive approach. This has especially been possible with the help of Music Venues Alliance members.
The charity has also hosted events in well-established venues such as Ministry of Sound, and recently in the Roundhouse, launched, Fightback a one-off music evenings with the purpose of raising vital funds to help prevent closures. The event was supported by many including louder than War and Tom Clarke (The Enemy) whose own Coventry Empire is leading a fightback to create new spaces for live music.
Music Venue Trust supporters include Sir Paul McCartney, Savages and John Robb who are using their talent as British artists to support other artists across Britain.
We really take music seriously and especially new artists performing live. It’s a massively important part of the music culture scene in the UK. Bands need to be able to get around the country and perform live in front of eager audiences.
Don’t let that stop! Let’s fight for this important part of our British music culture. Go to work and find the: Live Music Venue near you and go support it.
For more information on how you can help support and keep the music scene ‘alive and thriving’ please visit: http://musicvenuetrust.com/. You can also check out these resources for Live Music:
Pictured below are some of the Venues that are promoting live music within Camden. The borough has always been a centre for live music in London and is still flying the flag.
Underground Soundwave presents an ongoing series of reports on emerging and established bands with close-up Q&As, new release reviews and gig reports with a special emphasis on supporting diversity in music, women in music, independent labels and venues and the local music scene.
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