Cultural Recovery Package

The UK government has announced that the first tranche of funding from its £1.57bn (€1.72bn/$2.02bn) cultural recovery package will be used to save around 150 grassroots music venues from insolvency.

The £2.25m of emergency funding will be used to support venues said to be at imminent risk of collapse and it is expected to benefit up to 150 sites across the country. The £1.57bn package was announced earlier this month and will be used to help support the performing arts and theatres, museums, heritage, galleries, independent cinemas and live music venues through the impact of COVID-19.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “Without our grassroots music venues, we wouldn’t have The Beatles, Adele or Elton John. Nearly all of our globally successful music stars started out at UK clubs and live music venues – and we must make sure those organisations weather the COVID storm.

“The first £2.25m of our unprecedented cultural rescue package is targeted at their survival. We’re working to deliver the rest of the £1.57bn emergency package as quickly as possible, so that we can protect and preserve our precious culture, arts and heritage for future generations.”

The initial package of support will be administered by Arts Council England (ACE) and will target music venues, including a number identified by the Music Venues Trust, that are at severe risk of insolvency. The funding will provide grants of up to £80,000 to help venues survive the next few months.

The funding will be used to cover essential on-going costs for venues including rent, utilities, maintenance contracts and other bills.

Darren Henley, chief executive of Arts Council England, said: “Grassroots live music venues perform a vital role in England’s music ecology. As well as nurturing the next generation of talent across a huge range of musical genres, these are the places that spark that special connection between audiences and professional musicians.”

It is expected that funding will be received by organisations within the next few weeks. Further details on how organisations can apply to the £1.57bn package will be released in the coming days.

Subject to successful trials at a number of test venues, from August 1 indoor performances with socially distanced audiences will be able to take place.

Manchester comedy club The Frog and Bucket has announced that it has been selected as a pilot study venue for the trials. A fundraiser for Manchester’s 8th Women in Comedy Festival will take place on Wednesday, with tickets priced at £12, plus a booking fee of £1.50.

The venue said customers will be required when booking to accept the following terms: “I understand that this is a pilot activity and steps have been followed to minimise the risk surrounding this activity and I am happy to accept the risks involved.”

Back to Live

In Germany, events promoter Semmel Concerts has announced details of the country’s largest music events since the outbreak of the pandemic. Starting on September 4 with a concert by Roland Kaiser, ‘Back to Live – Open Airs 2020’ will consist of a series of events at the Waldbühne in Berlin.

The amphitheatre has a capacity of 22,000, but will be limited to 5,000 fans in accordance with the legal requirements that will be applied in the capital from September. All events will be carried out in strict compliance with existing hygiene and social distancing rules.

For this purpose, a hygiene concept tailored to the Waldbühne has been developed in cooperation between the operator, organiser and security service.

Dieter Semmelmann, CEO of Semmel Concerts Entertainment, said: “These concerts are about nothing more and nothing less than a signal: a sign of life from the live music industry and a signal to our audience that they have been waiting for so patiently.

“We have a responsibility, also towards our artists, and have been fighting for months for and industry with hundreds of thousands of employees who are directly or indirectly dependent on it.

“These concerts in the Waldbühne do not come from any economic motivation, but are only possible with great financial compromises by everyone involved.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced last month that Germany will ban most large events until the end of October to prevent a new wave of COVID-19 transmission.