‘In the event you do not use it, you may lose it’

Dirty Honey at the Craufurd Arms

Soiled Honey got here with a swagger and rocked the packed out Craufurd Arms

Impartial Venue Week is again for its tenth 12 months, celebrating the grassroots music institutions which have, in latest instances, confronted unprecedented challenges. People who survived the Covid lockdowns and diminished capability measures now face one other menace – the price of dwelling disaster. With pubs and small venues throughout the UK battling to remain open, might rising prices sign a last encore? BBC Information spent the evening at a famend venue in Milton Keynes that’s preventing laborious to maintain the punters rolling in.

The joys of going to a dwell gig, with roaring crowds, thundering bass and sweat dripping off the ceilings, has maybe by no means been at higher threat.

However regardless of it being a bitterly chilly Sunday evening in January, The Craufurd Arms is packed. The headliner – Los Angeles four-piece Soiled Honey – greater than justify their reserving, promoting out this 270-capacity venue, with folks travelling throughout the nation to see them.

The pub and venue, in numerous guises, has been a part of Wolverton’s group for greater than 100 years. However not so way back, this place stuffed with music lovers was as muted as an unplugged guitar amp.

Like others throughout the UK, it was compelled to shut its doorways through the Covid-19 outbreak. Employees have been furloughed and its future was hanging within the steadiness.

Fortunately, a diminished hire was agreed with the owner and an Arts Council England grant helped it preserve its head above water.

The venue took to promoting branded merchandise and provided its well-stocked alcohol fridges to locals as a house supply service to usher in some money.

Above the bar now proudly shows the names of about 1,000 followers who crowdfunded £30,000 to maintain the venue alive.

Crowdfunder names above the bar at the Craufurd Arms

The names of tons of of people that helped to avoid wasting the Craufurd Arms through the pandemic are by the bar

“The pandemic was powerful – worrying in regards to the workers, worrying about what was going to occur. However we managed,” says Max Harvey, who has run the Craufurd Arms with enterprise companion Jason Corridor for the previous 10 years.

He explains it feels “fairly overwhelming” to have had such passionate help, however warns the street forward is not any simpler.

“Now the most important menace is rising prices. Power payments are simply insane,” says Max.

“Our electrical energy has quadrupled from £16,000 a 12 months to £72,000 a 12 months – that is not together with gasoline and water which have each doubled.

“These are the most important will increase in overheads we’ve got ever seen, which is an actual menace to the viability of the enterprise.”

Max Harvey, who runs the Craufurd Arms

Max Harvey says the pandemic was “powerful”, however vitality value rises supplied one other menace to his and different venues

Max says it has compelled but extra must adapt.

He has determined to close the venue on Mondays and Tuesdays, however is opening it as much as extra of the group – together with for theatre teams and video shoots – to usher in some revenue.

There’s little say on the ticket costs they’ll cost, with many touring acts deciding their very own, so drinks costs – a principal revenue earner – have needed to rise to a degree the place persons are nonetheless prepared to pay, however which additionally cowl the rising prices from suppliers.

‘How will we make our cash?’

“On a offered out present we would be taking possibly six or seven grand on a weekend [over the bar]. Greater ones you possibly can take as much as eleven. However we’re dropping right down to about 4 and a half,” says Max.

He states that gig-goers are usually not coming as typically as they as soon as did and after they do, additionally they spend much less cash.

“How will we make our cash? That’s the query,” he says with a nervous giggle.

“We simply must carry on punching. Get the gigs in, attempt to get the punters in. Be inventive – attempt to do new issues. We’re opening up the house to creatives – anybody who needs to make use of the house, actually, as a result of it is an awesome house.”

In September, the Music Venue Belief warned vitality value rises offered an “existential challenge” to venues throughout the UK and it has been urging the federal government to discover a answer.

One in all tonight’s attendees, Trina Yates from Cambridge, says travelling to a gig 50-miles away continues to be well worth the expense to her.

Trina Yates at the Craufurd Arms

Trina Yates made the journey from Cambridge to Milton Keynes

“There is a matter with a few of the greater venues, the place tickets could be a number of hundred kilos, which is absolutely unaffordable for a lot of, many individuals. Tonight we paid £12.50 and we’re getting two wonderful bands,” she says.

Antonella Sexton, 26, who lives regionally, agrees. “It is inexpensive. I am unable to afford, you already know, to spend £60-70 on an enormous gig. Now £12.50 – that is bearable, that is two meal offers.”

Antonella Sexton at the Craufurd Arms

Antonella Sexton says the ticket value is good for a great evening out

The Craufurd Arms is participating in Independent Venue Week, operating from 30 January to five February, which supplies it an excuse to supply a week-long programme of occasions, costing about £10 a ticket. Amsterdam’s Pip Blom begin the proceedings.

It’s happening in additional than 300 UK venues and is a “celebration of unbiased music and humanities venues and the people who personal, run and work in them”, say organisers.

Max says: “Being part of Impartial Venue Week is nice and it offers homage to all of the small venues throughout the nation doing nice issues for his or her communities, and placing on nice reveals and artwork.

Craufurd Arms exterior

The Craufurd Arms is opening its doorways to group teams through the day to usher in additional revenue

“We like it. It is simply nice consciousness. We do seven gigs, however a number of locations do a number of artwork, ebook readings, a great deal of cool issues, which is nice as a result of it offers us concepts.”

Providing his recommendation to individuals who haven’t attended a small venue for some time, Max says: “Go to them. Use them. Use the services they provide.

“They placed on a present. You suppose, ‘I am a bit drained, I do not need to go to that,’ you are going to lose the venue.

“In the event you do not use it, you may lose it.”

BBC Radio 6 Music presenter, Steve Lamacq, says: “Impartial Venue Week has all the time performed an important position in serving to grassroots venues at a financially perilous time of 12 months. However it’s much more important now, as venues attempt to bounce again from the Covid lockdowns and address the pressures of the present value of dwelling scenario.

“It is also a good time to get out and see some new and rising artists earlier than they hit the summer season competition phases.”

A Division for Digital, Tradition, Media and Sport spokesman says: “We all know this can be a tough time for music venues and we stay firmly on their aspect.

“The federal government has delivered an £18bn bundle of help for organisations via the Power Invoice Reduction Scheme, which incorporates arts venues and companies, via the winter.

“The scheme will proceed to supply useful help to organisations till the top of March earlier than the brand new Power Payments Low cost Scheme comes into impact to supply further help for the next 12 months.”

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