Covid-19: Future of Grassroots Venues

The recent news of the venue ‘Plan B’ still operating in the Swedish town of Malmö has presented an interesting thought in the current music economy. Whilst Instagram live is proving a vital form of connectivity with fans, this has been an inefficient way to generate financial support. On the back of a huge effort from the music community to support each other, the reality is, the pandemic has and continues to hit the music industry hard.

In recent news, Belgium and France have stated large social gatherings such as festivals are cancelled until the end of August and health officials have warned that festivals may not be up and running until Autumn 2021. Whilst this seems bleak, Angela Merkel has revealed plans to exit-lockdown, opening smaller stores and schools soon, it seems a strategy to not just operate by nature of business but also by size, is being considered. This poses the question, what does this mean to the industry, could grassroots venues have an opportunity here?

People across the country are adapting to a new world, re-discovering their communities; local greengrocers are busier than ever and neighbourhood communal spaces are having the love injected back into them.

Credit: Gianluca La Bruna

Theoretically, we could see a state where grassroots venues are the first to open in the sector, and much sooner than expected. Venues with limited capacities could be deemed in a different bracket, for limiting the potential spread of the virus further whilst balancing the economy. Larger venues and organisations have a surplus of funds and alternate streams to balance their finances such as the O2 circuit, if the projected timeframes are blanketed across all venues, we could see a circuit solely operated through larger venues with no stepping stone for future talent. Opening venues in a staggered approach could be the answer.

Whilst these venues would still need to rely on a wider infrastructure operating, the opportunity to plant these connections to audiences and develop them is huge, and if tailored correctly this could change the musical landscape forever. Larger bands could re-discover and support their roots by still performing tangible shows thus generating much more money than existing channels. Audiences who never knew of their local musical hub could be inspired and local independent bands would have a platform to connect with a new and wider audience.

The focus still needs to be on survival, for these venues that are most at need of support and the independent bands that perform there. Whist these venues continue to struggle, organisations and venues are doing a great job raising money to survive. Please check out and donate, via Music Venue Trust, Crowdfunder, Jimmys, The Cluny, The Joiners to name just a few.

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