Grassroots venues are cherished in the UK and can be found in almost every town – everybody has to start somewhere, and some of the finest UK acts are no exception. From the Sex Pistols historic show at Lesser Free Trade Hall in Manchester to Radiohead’s unlikely support of Sultans of Ping at The Pink Toothbrush in Essex, small venues have certainly had their fair share of talent.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for grassroots venues to close, despite cultural significance. If punters stop going to their local haunts and bands stop playing the back rooms of pubs, the closure of hundreds of venues is inevitable.
Not only this, but many venues are closed due to noise complaints from neighbours, despite individuals being warned of local nightlife before moving in, and other venues are taken down altogether to make room for shopping centres or apartment buildings.
Luckily, London mayor Sadiq Khan saw this decline in London venues, and realised the damage it causes for London nightlife. As a result, he appointed Amy Lamé the Night Czar of London – the first job of its kind. Her responsibility is to ensure London runs as a 24-hour city should – so the city never sleeps, so to speak – and to publish guidance and support legislation which improves and protects nightlife, and thus protecting grassroots venues.
This move has seen an improvement in other areas and organisations supporting venues and nightlife. The ‘Agent of Change’ concept has finally been recognised and enforced – now, new businesses or potential residents must take into account pre-existing music venues if they are to operate near each other. This means that measures are to be taken (carried out by the newest party) to ensure both parties are happy.
For example, if a family wish to move in near a music venue, it is their own responsibility to soundproof their home (if necessary) and take any other precautionary measures to prevent later discomfort. The same goes for music venues looking to open near residential areas and such; it is down to the new business to gain permission and adequately soundproof the venue before opening.
The change should mean less music venues are forced to close down, and could mean that other moves are on the horizon to protect grassroots venues.
You can support grassroots venues yourself, by tweeting the hashtag #savelivemusic.
Article by Connor Winyard.