‘Yes the artists play the music, but we all have a part to play in saving the venues.’
Regardless of what style of music you may be into, I’m sure we can all agree on one thing: we have really missed live music this year. When everything began to change at the start of 2020, I, like many, many others never considered that music venues would still be closed, or barely operating 9 months on. But that is the very sad reality. Sure the negative impact of what has unfolded this year has been felt in other places too, but the negative impacts on the live music industry are leading to one of the UK’s cultural backbones being completely destroyed.
Last year, in pre-Covid days, live music played a huge part in Listen to Discover. Days ahead would be filled with excitement. The address of the venue would be checked. Transport routes would be checked too, then re-checked – all in the name of not missing out on live music. Then I’d arrive – invariably far too early – and, if providing coverage of the night, would work out the best place to be. Also invariably I would get stuck in a cycle of buying a drink, changing shooting position, then realising I had placed said drink somewhere never to be found again. Then the buzz of the crowd would grow, and as final sound checks were made, a sense of exhilaration would fill me knowing all the aforementioned was worth it. Some of you may think this all sounds hellish. But for me, and those who have missed out on so many live music experiences this year, it’s a time that I reflect incredibly fondly. The fact that it’s led to many incredible discoveries and created many more clear-as-day memories is just an added bonus.
You see, without wanting to state the obvious too much, the live experience of your favourite artist is nothing like what you experience when you stream their music online or spin their vinyl. Maybe they play your favourite tracks – in fact you probably hope they do – but you experience them completely differently. You see the passion they have for what they do. You see how each member interacts with each other, and their fans. Equally, you find yourself watching in awe as your favourite solo artist, lit by a single spot, manages to transform a crowd that was rocking out to the previous band into one that’s silent and completely captivated. But soon, in fact very very soon, the number of opportunities we get to experience moments like this could dramatically decrease.
“Grassroots venues play a crucial role in the development of British music, nurturing local talent, providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and their performance skills. These venues also play a vital role in the cultural and economic vibrancy of any village, town or city.” [Music Venue Trust]
Here in the UK today (2nd December 2020), there has been positive news in the form of vaccine approval and a roll out of it beginning imminently. This is, as I say, incredibly positive and for many a glimmer of light at the end of the very dark, very long tunnel that has been 2020. Ultimately a step in the direction of social distancing being less needed. However, while that glimmer of light begins to shine, the lights in music venues that we know and love continue to dim towards that switch never being turned on again. It may sound dramatic, but with the #SaveOurVenues campaign stating that more than 400 grassroots venues are at risk of permanent closure, the reality isn’t just that bad, it’s worse.
Among those hundreds of venues, 30 are on The Music Venue Trust’s Red List. A list that highlights venues across the UK that are, without further funding and support most likely to close. Like the others, these are venues which have a history, a whole load of stories to tell, and most of all, will have, for those lucky enough to be there on a gig night, generated ever lasting memories. Memories filled with moments that made you cry, had you screaming lyrics or caused you to jump up and down so much that it felt like the floor may collapse. And yes before you ask, all three apply to me! But more memories like that may not be created without your support.
So if you are sitting there thinking “When I can, I want to head to my favourite music venue, spill my drink everywhere, get squashed among the crowd and experience live music again”, do something to help that venue survive. In fact, do something that helps all those venues in dire straits right now and donate towards the £1,750,000 needed to save those on The Red List Crowdfunder. Or buy some merchandise from the Save Our Venues website. Or if you aren’t able to do either of those, spread the word across social media using #SaveOurVenues and #Savethe30, because in truth, while the artists play the music, we all have a part to play in saving the venues.
Industry Article by David Croker
Discover the 30 venues most at risk and donate to The Red List Crowdfunder here.
Support the venues by purchasing merchandise on The Save Our Venues Website here.
See which venues closest to you are most at risk on The Red Alert Venue Map here.