Venues Day 2015

A sunny day in late October saw hundreds of small venue owners and promoters turn up at The Ministry of Sound in South London to sit inside and take part in Venues Day 2015 organised by Music Venue Trust. A slightly surreal, but worthwhile, experience, aided by coffee and rounded off by Jack Daniels.

Last year, after the first Venues Day, I was left thinking how people could value music and pay more for it – while happy to pay nearly £3 for a cappuccino, most resent paying £5 to see 3 local bands they haven’t heard before. This year I am left thinking how far MVT has come in that year, gaining national recognition, and bringing venues together to gain benefits. Two MPs, Ed Vaizey – Minister of State for Culture, and Michael Dugher – Shadow Culture Secretary, formed part of the first panel. While Vaizey at times looked uncomfortable, Dugher seemed to have a real interest in music and events, but let’s hope both were listening and ready to think about the issues.

Aside from noise complaints, insurance costs, and paying for security staff on the door…  my interests are still the ones that made me become involved with Tunbridge Wells Forum three years ago. In a roundabout of thoughts: are keeping the venue open to keep new music being produced amongst a younger generation; for the younger generation to go out and see music rather than stay home and watch YouTube; for the older generation to realise it’s Ok to go out and enjoy music despite their age; that while it’s great to see some free music in the pub, or a top band at a festival or an arena – that small venues are currently the link between the two where bands can progress, tour, hone their craft, be supported, by people whose lifetime has been in the music industry; that we are lucky in Tunbridge Wells to have this on our doorstep – that it is a place of value, not a scene of crime and den of iniquity. So I was interested to hear from Dr Julia Jones of Found in Music, about the 35+ generations being the ones with both money and music passion, and Olaf Furniss of Born To Be Wide, discuss music tourism.

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Last night TW Forum hosted the final gig for local band Ugly Love (above), and I think the photo shows (lots of blurry people?) a wide range of ages present in the audience. Lead singer Tom Adolph has been part of my twitter time line for over four years now; The Forum was an important part of the whole band’s lives, and from that the band become important in the lives of many young people. But that gig actually brought together different generations, and people from afar. While we will miss the fun of Ugly Love, we should try and keep this venue going for the next relay… (Raised by Raptors ?) and also to be able to enjoy the likes of The Blockheads in an intimate setting.

Independently run venues will gamble on up and coming names in a way that council supported venues can’t. They rely on (often unrecognised) volunteers, as they look like businesses not charities. They rollercoaster between a gig sold out in three minutes, to one where 20 people turn up, and 5 are the support band. At Venues Day people discussed arts, culture and supporting talent. But there is also entertainment – a place to have a great night out, surrounded by others having a great night out.

Here’s to 2016.

Here’s why Ugly Love played their last ever gig:

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Here’s to the guys at The Forum putting up with the old woman who remembers buying random 7″ singles in the little shop in St Dunstans Road, Canterbury, purely based on the pictures on their covers.

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