Music venues still face hardship, City Hall told

Friday, 17th June

Lexington pub

The Lexington was among the venues forced to close during the pandemic

THE intimate music venues which provide bands with their first breaks may have weathered the Covid pandemic – but are not out of the woods yet.

This was the warning from the Music Venues Trust, an organisation dedicated to preserving them, at a discussion on London’s battered economy on Wednesday.

Clara Cullen, the venue support director for the MVT, told a meeting at City Hall: “Everybody is talking about recovery [from the Covid lock­downs] but in truth it’s going to be more about stabilisation – maybe even for two years before we see the pre-pandemic levels of footfall.”

London Assembly members were discussing how cultural venues may need help to stay open – even though they were highly valued.

Several music venues in Islington appealed to fans for donations during the months they were forced to close, while others needed cultural grants to get them through.

Ms Cullen told the meeting: “We are seeing across the board a 20 per cent no-show rate – people who have bought tickets but then not turning up to shows.

“The cost of living crisis: I was speaking to one venue this morning and their energy bills went up from £1,600 to £2,100 – that’s a big gap when less people are coming to shows, less people are spending money at the bar. It is creating quite a pressurised environment.”

She added: “What’s the phrase? Out of the oven and into the fire? That’s what this feels like. We’ve come through the pandemic which was absolutely an existential crisis for the live music industry but we’ve come into a period that has its own challenging circumstances.

“I’m someone who tries to be optimistic but it is a cause for concern.”

The MVT helped a series of venues across Camden and Islington campaigning for some historic settings to be saved from permanent closure.

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