Leeds music venues among the first to benefit from a £1.57bn government cultural recovery fund

Music and cultural venues across Leeds are set to benefit from a £1.57bn recovery fund from the government.

Saturday, 22nd August 2020, 6:00 am

Today, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport announced 135 grassroots music venues across the UK will be the first recipients through the Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund, which was launched last month to support grassroots venues facing imminent collapse. The fund has been increased from the original amount of £2.25m to £3.36m.

The venues had applied for support to survive the imminent risk of collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The accelerated funding has been delivered by Arts Council England in under a month to save grassroots venues previously facing insolvency. The emergency grants of up to £80,000 will cover on-going running costs incurred during closure, including rent and utilities, so that some of the country’s most vulnerable venues can survive.

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The Old Red Bus Station in Leeds is one of the recipients of much needed government funding.

In Leeds recipients include Alchemy Leeds Ltd (£47,000); Blueberry Hill Studios (£20,000); Creative Aristocracy Ltd (£46,585); Soundblast Ltd (£12,500); Old Red Bus Station (£13,795).

Culture Secretary, Oliver Dowden, said: “This Government is here for culture and these grants today show we are determined to help our exceptional music industry weather the covid storm and come back stronger.

“Grassroots music venues are where the magic starts and these emergency grants from our £1.57 billion fund will ensure these music venues survive to create the Adeles and Ed Sheerans of the future.

“I encourage music fans to help too by supporting music and cultural events as they start to get going again. We need a collective effort to help the things we love through covid.”

The announcement comes after a chorus of musicians and venue bosses in Leeds urged the Government to provide more support to the music and live entertainment industry which has been left “in limbo” throughout the coronavirus pandemic, throwing the future of this city’s vibrant music scene into real doubt.

They were led by stalwart of the Leeds music scene, Ian De-Whytell, owner of the 35-year-old Crash Records shop on the Headrow. He told the Yorkshire Evening Post: "It’s very worrying. There are venues in Leeds that are in serious trouble and in serious danger of not being able to re-open unless they get a lot of help."

Kevan Williams, from the first direct arena said the venue had been “in limbo” throughout the coronavirus lockdown and was “desperate” for more guidance from the Government.

It has said that indoor performances can now restart with socially distanced audiences so music venues are able to reopen safely, alongside other culture venues and heritage sites. This was brought in last week but is unviable in practice.

Mr Williams added that a socially-distanced gig at the 13,780-seater venue would mean only around a third of the full capacity, which "for most of our promoters just doesn’t make the tours viable.”

So far this year, 61 events at the arena have been postponed until 2021/2 and four cancelled. Approximately 85 per cent of its workforce, employed by ASM Global, are on furlough and consultations are under way regarding a number of redundancies.

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Thank you

Laura Collins