Hello from Team Wedge, we thought we would give you another update on our progress. A lot of you were understandably concerned by the news of venues like Deaf Institute closing last week (since saved!) as well as excited (or confused) by the August 1st reopen date given by the Government. We thought we would offer some reassurances, let you know what we are doing and how you can help. This is a long one so if you want to jump forward to a specific section we will be talking about.
- Government Funding
- Planning ahead
- Statement on August 1st reopen date
So the fun task of applying for grants begins today! We’re applying for Arts Council England’s Grassroots Music Fund. This was introduced last year and the first step in music venues receiving the recognition and support they deserve. ACE has traditionally been more focused on theatres and art centres so the announcement of a dedicated music venue fund in 2019 was very welcome. It was sadly put on pause at the start of lockdown but reopens today. This grant is not related to COVID and we will be carrying over an application we had prepared earlier in the year. IF successful this will help us financially and technically whilst making us more environmentally friendly, but more on that IF we get it. With regards to COVID we’re now waiting for info on when the emergency fund will be released and what it consists of. This will be followed by a recovery fund later in the year. Both of those come from the £1.57 billion investment announced by the Chancellor to protect Britain’s world-class cultural, arts and heritage institutions. We still don’t have specifics about these but have been told to expect them soon.
There is some scepticism around this announcement but it is important to note that music venues and Music Venue Trust are explicitly mentioned. While this might seem like a small gesture it means a lot to us. To be honest we have felt left out for a long time and it is nice to finally be in the conversation around culture in this country. This will hopefully change the perception of venues and lead to us being held in the same esteem as those theatres and other art institutions. Our music industry is one of the best in the world, one of our finest exports and it is about time it is treated as such.
So we’re being patient, we’ll see what happens and if we’re not happy we’ll be sure to let you know.
You’re probably aware by now but we have a crowdfunder (https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/savethewedge). We hit our initial target of twelve grand in 12 hours. Since then we have stretched it further, currently standing at a gobsmacking £22,000. We’ve ran out of words for this so we’ll just reiterate what we’ve said before; thank you, thank you and thank you.
Since its creation the MVT have added Save Our Venues t-shirts as a reward for future £20 pledgers. Costs of those are covered entirely by MVT so we get the full twenty quid. If you’ve browsed through the pledges on the crowdfunder (and you should the comments are lovely) you would have seen two very generous contributions; one from our friend, artist in residence and upstairs neighbour My Dog Sighs and another from Solent LEP. The #SolentPayItForward scheme match-funds (up to £5,000) once 25% of the funding target had been met through supporters’ contributions. So this is a consequence of your donations so thank you once again.
Solent LEP Board Director SJ Hunt explained: “With micro and small businesses making up 98% of the Solent’s economy, it seemed critical that the LEP find a way to support them through what has been one of the most difficult economic periods in living memory. Independent businesses like the Wedgewood Rooms are much loved by locals and play an important part in making the Solent region special.”
Besides the Save Our Venues t-shirts we also have a new merch range! This is something we had been planning for a while and lockdown gave us the time to finally realise this We have a collection of retro tees and totes from different parts of our almost thirty year history. We make less from these (as we cover the costs) but every little helps, plus they look cool and turn you into a walking advertisement which helps. We hope to expand this in the near future and we have already added two different ladies cuts to the selection.
We also have some old posters for sale!
Like with the save our venues t shirts the costs of these are kindly covered by MVT and TCB Merchandise. We currently have 16 for sale featuring Joe Strummer, Muse, My Chemical Romance, The Killers, Buzzcocks, Johnny Marr and more. This is a big job that requires going through old files and digitising physical prints so we will be drip feeding them over the coming months.
You can find links to shirts and posters at our lush new website which is another long term project finally realised in lockdown, go have a look www.wedgewood-rooms.co.uk. Besides the listings you will find extensive venue info including venue history and a ‘get a gig’ page, which will be handy to you musicians.
One of the last and more important ways you can help us
Start planning ahead to Autumn/2021
Indoor live music at our level is still a while away but that gives you lots of time to get acquainted with the acts we have booked so far! Keep up to date with shows that are being moved and announced for later in the year/2021. When we do open we anticipate its going to be tough and we will need your support. Listen to the acts that have been advertised so far, see if anything takes your fancy and visit us when we do open. Live music at our level was struggling before COVID and we don’t anticipate that changing. So take a chance on something new. We’ll be announcing more shows soon.
If we are to open in 2020 it will most likely be tribute, comedy and local acts at a reduced capacity. If you’ve never been to a comedy event you really should. Hot acts like Romesh Raganathan passed through our Comedy Club multiple times. To help you discover new acts we have made a Spotify playlist of all the bands booked so far. Follow us at https://spoti.fi/2VR510C. It is incredibly likely that all of our touring shows will move into 2021. This is a decision made between artists, management and promoters. Make sure you keep an eye on your inboxes and our social media channels for the last of the reschedules.
We’re also very excited about the Passport: Back to Our Roots campaign which could see huge artists returning to smaller venues for some very special shows. We don’t have any involvement in the decisions around this but hope to be included. Make sure you are registered with them and following them on social media to stay up to date.
Statement on reopening
Safe to say we won’t be opening on the 1st of August. We feel the statement from the Music Venues Trust below perfectly explains this.
“UK Government has announced that from 1 August live music events will be permissible in Grassroots Music Venues if they observe social distancing, and that pilot projects will take place prior to this date to test the conditions for such performances.
The government has been in talks with various organisations, including Music Venue Trust, within the live music sector with regards to pilot events being held. However, we have not received confirmation that any of these events have been authorised to take place in Grassroots Music Venues as yet so would question whether August 1st is a realistic date for those pilot events to have taken place and to have informed the final guidance for venues.
It should be noted that we have already provided evidence to the government that staging live events with any level of social distancing measures would not be financially viable for the majority of Grassroots Music Venues. If such socially distanced events are to be part of the progress towards normality within the sector from 1 August, significant subsidies will be required if this measure is to have any noticeable impact upon the number of shows actually taking place. We would also note that events at Grassroots Music Venue level typically take between 6 weeks and 6 months to arrange, and that a notice period of two weeks is another enormous challenge to the objective of bringing back live music safely.”
We hope this answers some of your questions. We do have some projects in the pipeline we can’t talk about just yet but rest assured we will be using our time wisely. We’re choosing to be optimistic and we look forward to seeing you all again in the not too distant future.
Stay safe, Team Wedge x