Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd on the battle to save the UK’s grassroots scene: ‘We can almost see light at the end of the tunnel’

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The MIA have long championed and supported the Music Venue Trust in all their endeavours to help protect the UK’s grassroots music venues. The organisation has been instrumental in fighting for grassroots venues during the pandemic. We wanted to share this great article featured in the Evening Standard this week which is an interview with Mark Davyd, the CEO.

Indoor music and performance venues being allowed to reopen with socially distanced audiences is tentative good news for the live music industry. The MIA welcomes this development – our own part of the music industry depends on musicians being able to work!

There are still huge challenges to over-come, such as how audiences will socially distance and how venues will make money when they can’t sell to full capacity. The focus for small venues is going to be operating in a safe way that is also financially viable.

This article gives a real insight into life for the people behind the venues. We will continue to work closely with our friends at the Music Venue Trust, and we will keep you updated on the success of the re-opening of indoor venues.

Here’s an excerpt from the Evening Standard article: 

We’re talking soon after the road to recovery for the nation’s music scene took its latest turn. As of August 15, venues are allowed to host indoor gigs again, provided the audiences are socially distanced and owners follow a series of Covid-secure guidelines. The easing of restrictions came a fortnight later than expected — the initial plan for an August 1 reopening was postponed after an increase in coronavirus infections in England — and while it represents “progress”, Davyd says, for many small venues, the situation is still an impossible one.

With the restrictions [the Government is] announcing, only 11 per cent of venues are actually able to open in anything like a financially viable process,” he says. “It’s like, ‘you’ve got the permission to do this, but with the restrictions you’ve got, you can’t really make it work’. Nearly 600 out of the 900 venues that we represent can’t do this because of the physical layout of the building.”

It means many venue owners across the country will remain stuck in this anxious purgatory of not being able to host gigs, with little indication of when they might be able to. Davyd says that while a lot of his energy has gone into providing financial support to these troubled owners, “50 per cent of our energy just goes into tackling the human catastrophe”.

“We’re dealing with people who are not only potentially losing their livelihoods or the place they love, or the place that’s been their whole lives in some cases,” Davyd says. “We also have venue owners and operators who live in their venue. When you talk about the ladder of problems they might have, sitting at the top is that they, frankly, could become homeless.

“It’s got a bit better in the last month, since we’ve started to get where we want it to get to. But certainly during April, May and June, I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t hear somebody on the phone who was very close to the edge, normally in tears, extremely concerned about whether they would make it through.”

You can read the full article on the Evening Standards website here: www.standard.co.uk/music/mark-davyd-interview-music-venue-trust

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