Chester Live’s ‘Festival Coordinator’ Dan Read talks about the crisis facing local venues due to the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, how it’s affecting those businesses and his own events business ‘Music Is Now’.
‘It’s interesting to see where local venues are with their crowdfunding through Music Venue Trust.
Some venues have been really proactive whilst others haven’t done anything at all. Some venues haven’t even set up the fundraising page even though they are signed up to the campaign….AT ALL! Which baffles me slightly.
Do these venue owners already have an ‘out’? Are those owners in the industry for the right reasons. Live music venues are as much about community as they are anything else.
Some would argue that the community aspect, or the ‘scene’ a venue sits within, can make a city or town. Look at Liverpool. A city steeped in music. It’s mixed in with the cement that holds every building together, it’s in every Scousers blood. Liverpool is music.
There’s only 2 days left in the MVT fundraising campaign. Here below are where local venues are in terms of % of their fundraising target:
Alexanders Live – 3%
The Live Rooms – 6%
Telfords Warehouse – although an MVT member they’re not signed up to this campaign
The Blue Bell (Conwy) – 3%
The Salty Dog (Northwich) – 3%
The Tivoli (Buckley) – not set up a fundraising page
Phase One (Liverpool) – 1%
Zanzibar (Liverpool) – 1%
The Jacaranda (Liverpool) – 3%
Heebie Jeebies (Liverpool) – 10%
So should we be worried? Is our local scene about to be devastated? Well to be honest I guess no one really knows, and only the venues know their own situation. Yes they need the money but if the money does not arrive will they close in 2 days time?
However, MVT did announce on Wednesday that these crowdfunders will carry over after the 2 days so there is more time for monies to be raised. How much life these venues do have though is something I can’t answer. Many, if not all, need the money NOW!
A massive postive though is that MVT’s own crowdfunder has now raised over £1 million and this will support the venues who are in ‘crisis’, at the worst point they could be.
There is the caviate that venues need to meet certain criteria and prove they’ve done all they can do through all open Government schemes to secure their futures. You MUST be in crisis. I believe this is very wise decision and will protect the system against mis-management. This is about saving venues not the bank balances of owners.
MVT have been a beacon in what is a terrible time for the industry. At a time when Music Is Now were about to start on a number of new incredible projects we had the rug pulled out from under us.
At present all of our events and festivals are postponed or cancelled, and all of our venues are closed. It’s destroyed our business.
I need our industry to return, ‘we’ need our industry to return.
If we have no venues we don’t have a scene. That’s Chester, Wrexham, everywhere in North Wales and the North West. Never mind the UK as a whole.
It’s hard to know what happens next. Every day different news paper articles tell a different story, our ‘contacts’ give us constrasting information to what one of our colleagues may receive, and social media strings us along on a roller coaster of emotions.
We also need to remember that although Westminister may bring out plans to bring the industry back online, however slow that maybe, Wales and Scotland have devolved powers so may act differently dependant on their own needs and scenarios.
As an industry we need to stand together more now than ever before. Yes, this industry desperately needs support, but we shouldn’t be showing that as a weakness. I don’t believe we should be going ‘cap in hand’ and begging for support, even though that may seem like the only option.
Together we can get through this.
When restrictions are loosened our venues will have to work within them or not trade at all. However there must be negotiation on this as no venue is the same, so there is no ‘one fix suits all’. Our government needs to appreciate this and come to the table prepared to make concessions.
Everyone within the industry needs to work together. That includes artists, agents, managers and other industry staff. The industry now needs to be open, honest and prepared to negotiate and make concessions with each other to make the industry work.
Otherwise it’s not just a venue that closes, you’re killing a community, other local businesses, a local area’s live music scene, the opportunities for local artists and overall the desire for children to even want to get into music.
Let’s also not forget the people who work so hard day-to-day to manage these venues, this is their livelihoods as well.
It’s vital we all support our local venues NOW before it’s too late. The fundraising pages for the above listed venues can be found at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/.
Do your bit #saveourvenues!
Together we will get through this.
PS please note that the information above is only about the venues signed up to MVT. There are 1000s more venues, clubs and pubs out there locally and in the UK who are not represented here. They too need your help, maybe more!’
Music Is Now is the promotions team behind such local events like Chester Live (www.chesterlive.co.uk). Currently Chester Live has postponed their 2020 event until November 2020 with more news coming over the next few months.
They are however running a ‘Online & Live’ event from the 15th – 21st June 2020 which will broadcast on their Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/ChesterLiveFestival. The event will be celebrating local artists from Chester and surrounding areas.