A new survey has found that over 28,500 shows are booked to place in England’s grassroots music venues, as coronavirus lockdown restrictions start to be lifted.
Much anticipation surrounds the return of live music following a year of inaction due to the coronavirus pandemic, especially after this weekend’s COVID pilot test events for clubbing and a small festival set-up featuring Blossoms, The Lathums and ZuZu.
With the current roadmap showing May 17 as the penultimate stage easing COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the UK before a planned return to full capacity social activity on June 21, the Music Venue Trust surveyed all of its English members to discover what a summer of live music might look like in grassroots independent gig spaces.
Their survey found that that over 2,534 socially-distanced shows are already on sale in 266 venues from May 17 to June 21 (including a tour from Fat White Family), with more than 4,000 shows across over 400 venues predicted to take place during the month.
Gigs will then hopefully increase throughout the summer, with over 17,000 full capacity shows are already confirmed to take place by the end of September, with around 28,500 shows likely to take place in front of 6,803,481 audience members throughout the full period.
“It’s incredible to see the enthusiasm for getting live music back into our towns and cities being shown by venues, artists and crew,” said MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick. “These socially distanced shows aren’t being delivered for financial return, in fact precisely the opposite. The grassroots sector is stepping up and putting its own time and money into answering the demand for live music in our communities.”
The Leadmill in Sheffield Credit: The Leadmill. CREDIT: Press
The MVT predict that with support artists factored in, around 91,500 individual live performances should take place offering around 300,000 work opportunities for musicians returning to paid employment after a difficult year – previously described as “their biggest crisis since the 1920s“.
Music Venue Trust CEO added: “As we emerge from the darkness of the last year and move towards our plan to Revive Live it is incredibly exciting and heartening to see the positivity with which UK grassroots music venues are approaching re-opening their doors. The fact that musicians can get back to work, music fans can start to enjoy a live music experience again and all the associated staff in the music venue eco-system can go back to earning a living again is amazing news.
“There are still challenges to overcome, and of course the whole of this programme relies on the government sticking to its roadmap to allow us to Reopen Every Venue Safely. Audience safety continues to be grassroots music venues’ main priority, but this is hopefully the start of our much-anticipated road back to normality.”
Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner on stage with Mini Mansions at The Lexington, London – 2015. Credit: Andy Hughes/NME
This comes with the Music Venue Trust calling for COVID pilot events to see how grassroots gigs might return following the weekend’s shows in Liverpool.
“It isn’t at all clear how anything learned from these events will directly help us to open the Hull Adelphi, 100 Club London, Tunbridge Wells Forum, Bristol Exchange or any of the other 950 grassroots music venues across the country that want to Revive Live music and get audiences back in front of musicians in our communities,” Davyd told NME.
He added: “It’s good news that we’ve got these pilots, but we have been writing to the government for weeks now to point out that the specifics of what we do at grassroots music venues are not actually being tested.”
Speaking to NME at the end of last year, Davyd put the saviour of UK music venues down to “people power”.
“When we look at where donations are coming from and when they spike, it is very closely linked to the coverage we receive from the NME,” said Davyd. “What that means is that NME readers are taking action and making a huge difference to keep these venues alive. We want to make it incredibly clear to the NME and its readers that the Music Venue Trust are merely standing in front of the work done by the public, by artists and by good samaritans.”
He continued: “This is the result of people power. When Music Venue Trust and NME were first talking about this crisis in March, we were looking at the very real closure of 500 venues. It’s quite an astonishing achievement and it belongs as much to the writers and readers of the NME as anyone.”
Visit here for information on how to help or donate the #SaveOurVenues campaign.