In some rare good news for small music venues, £2.25m of funding has been made available for grants of a value of up to £80,000 per venue and further guidance is due for venues if they can access the £1.57bn wider Arts fund. If successful, this funding will buy venues some time but what’s going to happen as we leave Summer?
Whilst the government has said venues can start to hold small or test events with limited capacity, venues are no nearer knowing when they can plan to hold events with a capacity nearing 80% which is around breakeven or making a small surplus/profit.
Prior to COVID-19, small venues had BREXIT to plan for which will make touring for smaller overseas-based bands more difficult and costly. BREXIT will be a factor from 2021 and despite protestations to the contrary, so will COVID-19.
If small venues are to be viable, then they need the government to provide a clear and timetabled plan for venues to return to as near to full capacity but with mitigation such as masks and improved cleaning regimes and for BREXIT measures relating tutoring bands being rescinded for the immediate future so tours can be booked. If these practical measures aren’t enacted, the grants announced recently will be for nothing.
The times ahead will be difficult for all venues, especially for small venues, and it will be surprising though welcome if all Brighton’s venues survive but trade, not aid will decide the fate for the medium to long term.