By Rosie Gilmour
The events industry is in a crisis and Arts Council England are on their way as Supernanny.
Venues are the backbone of the music and arts industry, and the ‘new normal’ for them is far more extreme than it is for the average person. An industry based on our innate drive to come together has to refocus on a world forced apart. Are live streams a futuristic nudge to what our world will be like in ten years’ time, or will we be reunited soon?
It wouldn’t be much of a reach to say that most people nowadays feel strange when watching festival videos from 2019 and seeing crowds of 40,000 crushed together in an attempt to get closer to the main act of the night (and ideally be spotted by the lead singer). If venues are open for seated events, prices are often higher and richness of experience arguably lower, right? After a bit of research, my own experiences and speaking to those involved in BPM (Leeds Uni’s resident DJ and electronic music society), I’ve found that this isn’t the case.
Luckily, all our favourite local venues like Old Red Bus Station remain, by a hair, open for business. Many recall the ‘#saveoldred’ appeal that emerged during lockdown under the pressures of zero demand for venues, in which Old Red sold merch in an effort to crowdfund basic rent to remain open. On Saturday, though, their successful application for a cultural recovery fund was announced thanks to Music Venue Trust and Arts Council England, the saving grace of nightlife.
Club-starved students are a large part of the backbone of events too, filling each and every table at Beaver Works and Old Red. I’m one of them. Last night I arrived at the beginning of a free tabled event at the latter and it was already at full capacity an hour before it started! Events at Old Red are either free or very cheap but nonetheless always worthwhile. As social media manager at BPM, I attended another one last month where our members had the chance to perform live on decks. In the next week or so, we’ll be hosting a livestream where any members can host a boogie, with any amount of experience.
The President of this year’s BPM committee and friend of mine, Freddie Noonan, notes that in accordance with restrictions, they ‘will be holding some online workshops with some Leeds-based industry professionals’, in addition to music production Q&As and open deck events, which will be most likely at Hyde Park Book Club and Old Red Bus Station. Keep your eyes peeled for our first live stream event in the coming weeks in support of the WeMakeEvents international live music movement and let BPM know if you’d like to get involved!
The big catch with grants is that Arts Council England are doing their best with what they have, but what they do have is not enough. The grants work by awarding funds from The National Lottery to grassroots music venues in order to support them throughout the pandemic. These grants range between £1-80k of the £2.25 million budget. Given the massive role nightlife plays in public finance and culture, the numbers fall short. Nightclubs alone have a reported market size of at least £1 billion (IBISWorld). The UK prides itself on being a melting pot of music with diverse influences from all over the world. Can the government really put a price on that?
In a world where nightlife is dying, let's be the kiss of life. Support your local venues. Yes Sir, we can and will definitely boogie, just maybe until 10pm rather than all night long. For now.
Image credit: Rosie Gilmour