Some of the capital’s best-loved nightlife venues have expressed their dismay at not being included in the government’s recently announced Culture Recovery Fund, administered through the Arts Council. The scheme, which offers funding to arts venues who have seen their audiences disappear during lockdown, has given grants from £50,000 to £3m to a wide range of cultural institutions.
However, many nightlife and music venues – some of the worst hit by the pandemic – have not been given grants under the scheme. Those refused funding in London include Printworks, the Egg, Studio 338, Oval Space and the Pickle Factory. In a statement, Simeon Aldred of Printworks commented: ‘Devastated to hear from the Arts Council that we did not fit their criteria for a Culture Recovery Fund grant […] We generated 34,000 freelance shifts at our shows last year and paid millions in VAT and tax. Many of our contemporaries in the UK got the grant (which I am pleased about) but we have not been given a penny. All of our venues sit in major regeneration areas and in addition to providing cultural experiences provide jobs for local economies something I would have thought the government would be supportive of.’
Joe Splain of Pickle Factory and Oval Space said: ‘If spaces closely aligned with authentic club culture have for some reason been overlooked by this fund, then there simply must be alternative financial support made available to them. These are the places where groundbreaking artists and creatives first present their work, often years before they achieve mainstream recognition. The effect of losing venues such as these will damage the cultural landscape of our cities immeasurably and will be felt for generations to come.’
The Night Time Industries Association voiced concern from across clubland that the decisions to refuse nightlife venues funding at this critical time stemmed from clubs not being regarded as bona fide cultural institutions. Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA said: ‘Given the significance of some of the businesses that have been left out, we are concerned with regard to eligibility and fair consideration around… the criteria they have been measured against. We are keen to understand the criteria with which some of these decisions have been made, and gain an understanding of when and if there will be further support for the sector through cultural funding.’
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