UK culture minister encourages music venues to apply for arts funding
London governmental officials appear determined to revitalize the city’s nightlife scene. Several days ago, the city announced London’s Grassroots Music Venues Rescue Plan, which recommends the implementation of a nightlife mayor to mediate discourse between the city’s existing venues, city officials, and residents.
Culture minister Ed Vaizey backed the new nightlife-friendly agenda at Music Venue Day, a live music conference, by encouraging music venues to apply for arts funding. Vaizey proclaimed at the conference that “a vibrant music venue which is breaking new acts has just as much right to be considered a cultural venue as a local or regional theatre.” The minister said the Arts Council “could potentially fund some of the equipment for music venues,” but reinforced that it was a separate entity from the government.
The BBC reports that 35% of small and medium-sized music venues in London have closed since 2007. Some contributing factors to the dismal (and rising) count are increased rent, noise complaints, greater difficulty in procuring licences, and steep competition for ticket buyers’ money. In response, the minister suggested that venues in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all apply for funding.
Shadow culture minister Michael Dugher echoed the same sentiment, remarking that shutting small venues had a disproportionately stunting effect on small and emerging musical acts. “I do worry that there may be an element of snobbishness in how money is allocated,” he commented. “Opera does very well, ballet does well, jazz does very well – but rock and roll doesn’t do so well. We have a real crisis in the system. We are hemorrhaging small music venues – not just in London, but across the whole of the country. We really need to wake up to that and do something about it.”