Save Our Venues | Grassroots Music Venues Are In Danger of Closing Forever

Music / August 4, 2020
by Johanna Roelich

There is a real struggle in the music industry with over 550 grassroots venues around the UK being at risk of being permanently closed. Now, it falls to artists, fans, local communities and the wider industry to take action in order to help this tragic situation. This being said, we can’t sit here and tell you that issue just arose over night. Yes, the current pandemic has certainly impacted this number drastically, but if we are being totally honest with ourselves, grassroots music venues have been suffering for many years. For example, on the 28th June 1997, Manchester’s well-known and much-loved cathedral to rave culture nightclub – the Hacienda – closed its doors for good. That was a significant milestone in Manchester history, and one that a true Mancunian raver of the 80s/90s will always remember. Since then, a number of venues have too followed this path, seeing no other alternative to closing, due to funding or other factors that could be helped. And unfortunately, more are due to follow, indefinitely.

Without these venues, the opportunities for artists and audiences to connect in a meaningful way at a local level will simply disappear. And once they go, it’s extremely unlikely they will ever return. These grassroots music venues need us, but not as much as we need them…

These independent venues bring communities together and give opportunities to thousands of artists who, without them, wouldn’t be where they are today. They are the backbone of the music industry, the heart and soul of music. The birthplace if you like. We can’t sit back and watch them disappear in front of our eyes.

“‘Independence’ means having the ability to be dedicated to our artists, fans, and staff. We believe building community health is more important than building shareholder wealth.” – Owner of First Avenue, music venue, Minneapolis USA (also facing struggle due to Coronavirus) This is a key example of the bond these venues have with their musicians – a bond that should never be broken or torn apart.

Let’s take a look back at some of the UK’s greatest independent music venues, that either have closed or are currently facing struggle, and to hear about the importance they bring to young artists.

Gorilla, Manchester. Recently saved. Still need your ongoing support.

“Without them, we wouldn’t exist” – Trampolene

The Boardwalk, Sheffield. Closed 2010.

“These small venues are imperative to the music industry, it’s where every band learns their trade!” – The Sherlocks

The Roadhouse, Manchester. Closed 2015

“Grassroots gig venues are the backbone of the music industry” – King Kartel

The Haçienda, Manchester. Closed 1997.

“We’d be absolutely nowhere without them. There’s no judgement, only encouragement to keep believing in yourself and keep doing what you love. We had Tony and the Zanzibar for that, and if wasn’t for his advice and being able to play that venue from such a young age I don’t know where we’d be.” – Red Rum Club

The Leadmill, Sheffield. Remains open. Still needs ongoing support.

“Without grassroot ‘anything’, we’d live in a world dominated by the machine. They breath life into the scene and for many they are places of sanctuary, where people can just be. For us, the smallest venues are always the best, intimate, full of life and where fans are made and nights are won” – Rats

The Astoria, London. Closed 2009.

“Without these venues, there is not future for upcoming bands.” – The Sherlocks

The Arches, Glasgow. Closed 2015.

“So much about the character of a city is the small independent places” – The Big Moon

The Zanzibar Club, Liverpool. Remains open. Still needs your support.
The Cockpit, Leeds. Closed 2014.

“Small venues are where musicians cut their teeth and connect with their audience on an intimate level. Every major act started out unknown in a grassroots venue somewhere. Supporting local artists and venues is the most direct way to nurture an authentic music scene.” – Kyle Falconer

Earls Court, London. Closed 2014.

“They’re places that give everyone a chance. That’s the main thing.” – The Amazons

The Death Institute. Recently saved. Still needs your support.


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