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Huge number of small music venues face closure after funding bid fails


An uncountable amount of small music venues face closure over the next four years after a failed bid for independent funding, according to the Music Venue Trust.

The Arts Council England (ACE), formed in 1994, a government-funded body dedicated to promoting the performing, visual and literary arts in England, rejected a bid from the Music Venue Trust who are desperately attempting to save small, independent venues at the bottom of the industry.

Beverley Whitrick, a director of the Music Venue Trust, has accused The Arts Council England of favouring ‘high’ art instead of ‘low’ art as major organisations take a majority share of the funding. During the last round of funding, the £1.6bn allocated was split into sections which saw £367million handed to those in the music sector. However, in a damning new revelation, 85% of that £367m went to opera and classical music.

“We are in a critical position with venues,” Whitrick told the Guardian. “The next [ACE] funding round is in another four years. We can’t even guess how many venues will close in the next four years. That’s not ACE’s fault, but the fact that we cannot build the level of support we want to offer makes it more likely that more venues will close.

“We thought we were winning the argument about these clubs being cultural venues, and so this feels like a slap in the face,” she added.

Iconic Leeds music venue closed down in 2014.

“A lot of our venues don’t just put on pop music,” Whitrick said as she explained the diversity of the Music Venue Trust. “They will also put on jazz and folk, some put on theatre, and most put on comedy. A lot of the stuff they host, they know they are going to lose money on.”

“If they were commercial, they wouldn’t be dropping like flies,” she said when explaining the importance of smaller, independent venues. “They are the bit at the bottom of the industry that doesn’t make money and helps develop the talent that then gets taken away from them once the artists start being more successful.”

Arts Council Funding 2018-2022
£96m Royal Opera House
£73m Southbank Centre
£67m National Theatre
£59m Royal Shakespeare Company
£41.5m Opera North
£24.5m Welsh National Opera
£14m North Music Trust
£12.5m Northern Ballet
£8.8m London Symphony Orchestra
£8.2m London Philharmonic Orchestra

Sheffield’s The Boardwalk closed in 2010.