Hackney and Islington’s grass roots music venues launch plea for government help

Behind the sound desk at the Islington Assembly Hall

Behind the sound desk at the Islington Assembly Hall - Credit: Archant

Colours Hoxton, EartH Hackney, and Islington Assembly Hall are among those to sign the Music Venue Trust’s open letter calling for support to survive.

Grass Roots music venues have signed a plea urging the government to “do the right thing” to save live music.

Colours Hoxton, EartH Hackney, and Islington Assembly Hall are among the owners and operators of the UK’s live music venues to sign the open letter.

To prevent the closure of hundreds of gig spaces, the Music Venue Trust has urged a plan of Government support from July to September, including a £50 million funding package and reduction on VAT on future ticket sales.

“Our venues are the fundamental cornerstone on which our world beating £5.2 billion per year music industry has been built for the last 60 years,” they say. “Without our Grassroots Music Venues, there would be no Beatles. No Stones, no Led Zeppelin, no Adele, no Ed Sheeran, no Dua Lipa. They are essential to the UK music industry bouncing back at any time in the future.”

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In addition to fostering the next generation of music stars, they offer training, rehearsal spaces, and recording opportunities to young people in their communities.

“Thousands of cultural professionals get their first taste of working in the creative industries in our venues.”

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Closed since March 20, they say public health advice is clear; singing, dancing and being in a confined space are high-risk activities.

“Coming together with friends and communities to dance and sing with your favourite artists is the very core and purpose of why we exist. Our sector has complied with the Public Health guidance. We did the right thing. We closed to protect our communities. We understand that we should not reopen until the health guidance changes. It is now time for the government to do the right thing.”

Aces and Eights in Tufnell Park, The Macbeth in Hoxton, Rich Mix, The Shacklewell Arms in Hackney Downs, and Piano Works in Farringdon have also signed the letter.

Some, including The Lexington, have launched crowdfunding campaigns.

Managers at the Pentonville Road venue said: “Between our commitment to our staff to pay them in full for as long as possible and our rent obligations it’s costing in excess of £25k a month to keep our doors shut. In order to keep paying our staff and ensure that we can keep offering the newest bands opportunities we have launched a crowdfunder.”

Aces and Eights, which has just celebrated its 10th birthday, launched a £10,000 crowdfunding campaign to pay rent, bills and operating costs as well offer financial support to furloughed staff. They fear that even when bars and venues reopen they will only be able to operate at 20-25 percent capacity “which is simply uneconomical for the majority of businesses”.


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