When we wake up from the nightmare of Covid-19, we need grassroots music venues to still be standing.
NEW MUSIC | #SAVEOURVENUES | WORDS BY DAN PARE
Whenever a grassroots music venue dies, so too does a piece of the city in which it resides – another casualty of the march towards a sleek monstrosity of glass phalluses, Wetherspoons and unaffordable flats.
I always remember the Coronet in Elephant and Castle holding some of the best larger gigs I’ve ever attended – but that too was swallowed by plans for a new shopping centre, after 138 years of existence. If this is the case with a 2,600-capacity venue, what chance do smaller venues hold in the face of rising rents and increasingly draconian nightlife and licensing regulation? When you add Coronavirus into the mix, coupled with a government seemingly unwilling to properly invest in preserving the heart of the UK’s £2.4 billion concert and festival industry, and we are legitimately on the brink of losing ‘hundreds’ of grassroots venues forever.
However, there is still hope! The #saveourvenues campaign organised by Music Venue Trust aims to save an identified 556 venues across the UK’s live music network. Each venue will have set targets of money needed to stay afloat, and artists will be livestreaming gigs to raise money towards these targets. The ceiling of mundanity is closer than we think, and the river of brilliance flowing from grassroots venues like The Windmill, Shacklewell Arms and Moth Club keep the waters of cultural stagnation from drowning us against it.
Make no mistake, the Governments’ unwillingness to fund grassroots venues is social sanitising happening in real time. Wealthy investors are happy to turn every square inch of a cultural hub into a Boxpark, apparently of the belief that counter-culture is best sold over the counter – it’s up to us to show them it isn’t. Don’t let the bastards win. (If you can), Donate to your local venue. Buy any merch available. Write to your MP against any possible closures. Think about how much you value your local scene, and how pissed you’d be if it died.
Each venue involved will have their own Crowdfunder, which you can likely find on their social media. Alternatively, you can donate to the national fund at: http://www.saveourvenues.co.uk