“The situation is dire, government support has been exhausted, and it now falls to artists, music fans, local communities, and the wider industry to take action. Put bluntly, without these venues the opportunities for artists and audiences to connect in a meaningful way at a local level will simply disappear in a lot of cases.” The appeal features on the #saveourvenues website.
Grassroots music venues are the cradle of independent music. Other forms of entertainment are weathering the pandemic storm better. For example, if you like gaming, finding the best casino bonuses to play is not so difficult. Listening to subterranean music is another story. Small venues are vital to providing both rehearsal space and a chance to perform in front of a real audience. Many of them depend exclusively on income from live shows. The lockdown has hit them hard and they are struggling to pay rents and wages.
In the UK, grassroots venues are lucky to have a charity campaigning for them. Music Venue Trust was founded in 2014 to help protect the long-term futures of these small establishments. In May 2020, the trust sounded the alarm: more than 556 venues are currently at risk of imminent and permanent closure. The number is somewhat smaller now, but it still totals over 400 endangered venues. The #saveourvenues campaign is fundraising to help them survive.
“Without the support of music fans and artists literally hundreds of the UK’s grassroots music venues could go out of business, never to return, in the coming months,” Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd declared at the launch of the campaign. The idea behind #saveourvenues is to secure grassroots music venues one by one. Several artists have joined and linked their concerts to a specific venue to collect funds for it.
The #saveourvenues website provides a map of venues in the UK that desire to be partnered. Each of them has a fundraising page already in place to make it easy for its fans to donate. “As events are organised they will be listed and streamed on the website and on the venue’s and artist’s social media platforms. As each venue target is reached, any money raised above this will go into the central pot which Music Venue Trust will use to help every venue across its network.”
The website has published specific instructions for the three categories: artists, venues and fans. They have also teamed with Crowdfunder. So far, they have recruited 4415 supporters and raised £1,133,216 out of a stretch target of £1,500,000. A social templates package can be downloaded to make it easier for fans to spread the campaign logo on FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter and advertise campaign events. At the moment, 16 streaming events can be reached from the #saveourvenues website.
One of the main inspiration for the campaign came from Frank Turner. He was the first to launch at-home fundraising events with the series #IndependentVenueLove. “The success of these shows demonstrated the love that exists between music fans and their favourite grassroots music venues,” Turnee said, “so the #SaveOurVenues campaign is a brilliant way of building on that and hopefully giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive.’