Iconic music venue lights up at grassroots lifeline

Iconic music venue lights up at grassroots lifeline
The Forum lights up in red. Picture: Simon Partington

Thousands of organisations at risk of closure across a range of sectors including the performing arts and theatres, heritage, historic palaces, museums, galleries, live music and independent cinema will be able to access emergency grants and loans thanks to the announcement made on Monday [July 6].


PM Boris Johnson said many of these venues were the ‘beating heart’ of the country.

He added: “This money will help safeguard the sector for future generations, ensuring arts groups and venues across the UK can stay afloat and support their staff whilst their doors remain closed and curtains remain down.”

The news came on the day The Forum, along with other venues up and down the UK, was illuminated in red as part of the #LightItInRed movement in order to raise awareness of the plight of the arts sector.

Like many live performance venues, The Forum has been unable, legally, to open since March 20, and has taken part in a campaign to convince the government to help struggling arts venues. This included them joining musicians across the world writing to ask for venues to be supported financially by the government.

Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark has also backed the campaign and raised the issue in the House of Commons to prompt the Government to act.

“The Forum has been an iconic part of Tunbridge’s cultural scene for 27 years and during this time it has hosted dozens of artists and bands which have gone on to mainstream success,” Mr Clark told the Times.

“Its value as an incubator of local talent should not be overlooked and it is a place that is enjoyed by hundreds of my constituents each week who go there to listen to live music and socialise. I have repeatedly raised with the Culture Secretary the need to support live venues who are not able to reopen because the continuing social distancing rules prevent it.

“I am very pleased that the Government has listened and allocated £1.57 billion to the sector. I will continue to make the case for The Forum and Trinity and other local venues to help ensure they have access to this fund.”

Meanwhile The Forum’s co-owner Jason Dormon said: “It’s been a strange few months. Being closed still involves paying bills, and so far, The Forum has relied on the music community buying lots of branded t-shirts and bags from the website. We are one of the luckier venues at the moment.”

He added: “On behalf of every grassroots music venue in the UK we would like to take this opportunity to thank every music fan, every artist, every activist, and every one of you, our people, who got this done.

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