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Grassroots sector to benefit from £1.5 million Arts Council fund

NXT News
20 May 2019

CAMPAIGNERS HAVE welcomed the announcement of a £1.5 million Arts Council England (ACE) fund specifically aimed at grassroots music venues and promoters.

People working in the sector can apply to the Supporting Grassroots Live Music fund for grants of £1,000-40,000.

Money is available to organisations whose main function is hosting and/or promoting live music events in venues. ACE says this is expected to be small- and medium-capacity venues – up to 650 – and promoters. 

Applicants must demonstrate they can raise 10 per cent of the total cost of the project themselves.

Projects that will be considered include programming a series of concerts, buying essential equipment, carrying out building work, business planning, or creating training programmes for off-stage roles. 

Grants won’t be awarded for things like day-to-day running costs, or projects that are simply intended to make a profit. Applicants must show how their project will enhance their ability to bring quality live music to audiences. 

The fund is not aimed at individual artistes, managers or agents, who can apply instead to the main Project Grants programme.

ACE director of music Claire Mera-Nelson tells NXT she acknowledges that there may be some concerns over the role public money plays when it comes to commercial venues. 

“There are things we can’t control, such as business rates or a lack of public transport provision in rural areas at night,” she says. “But we wanted to do something that would work alongside the Music Venue Trust’s Pipeline Investment Fund [PIF] and other industry initiatives. 

“For example, grants can be used for things like attracting better quality artistes to your venue, helping venues diversify their programming so they attract new audiences through their doors, or demystify venues for people that don’t usually attend them, by helping them open at different times of the day.”

The Music Venue Trust (MVT), which campaigns to support the grassroots sector, welcomed the announcement. “We want to ensure that venues across the UK are able to access the support they need to become real centres of excellence,” says CEO Mark Davyd. “When our grassroots music venues thrive, the whole industry benefits.”

MVT says representatives from major live music companies such as Live Nation Entertainment, its Ticketmaster subsidiary and  AEG have been meeting the Trust since January to work out how they can help invest in smaller venues.

Among the results of these meeting is AEG venue The O2 (cap. 21,000) offering to contribute guest list donations at major events to the PIF, and Ticketmaster adding a donation option on its ticketing to support MVT’s Emergency Response service which offers backup to venues facing noise complaints, licensing and planning issues.

Ticketmaster UK MD Andrew Parsons says, “As a long-time supporter of MVT, we’ll be giving fans the opportunity to add a donation to the trust through our website. With millions of digital users annually, this will also give unparalleled visibility to MVT and the significant work they do.”

Money collected for the PIF will be administered by the MVT, which says it will use the money for things such as: investment in sound and lighting; physical infrastructure to improve access, capacity, health and safety, artist facilities, training and apprenticeship programmes.

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