Sheffield music venues in 'imminent danger' of permanent closure appeal for help

The owners of two Sheffield grassroots music venues listed as being in ‘imminent danger’ of permanent closure have spoken out about their ‘critical’ situation amid the launch of a nationwide funding campaign.

By Lloyd Bent
Wednesday, 11th November 2020, 3:55 pm

Today (November 11) the Music Venue Trust (MVT) published a list of 30 venues across the country which were ineligible for the Government’s cultural recovery fund and face the prospect of closing down for good because they cannot survive another lockdown.

Two of the venues on the list were Sheffield-based Dryad Works, in Parkwood Springs, and Plot 22 on Exchange Street in the city centre.

MVT has launched an extension of its #saveourvenues campaign – which has helped other Sheffield establishments such as The Leadmill, Sydney and Matilda and Record Junkee – in a bid to secure the future of these ineligible venues.

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Dryad Works in Sheffield

Joe Taylor, who runs Dryad Works, said: “Without assistance we are set to close our doors for good and lose our home. But, it’s not just our home, it’s the home of many creatives who rely on its survival to keep their livelihoods secure.

“Our DIY ethos has meant we have rarely asked for help before but this is serious. The situation is critical. The timing is imminent.

"We form a self-built community of creative individuals who work together to bring an authentic underground DIY venue experience to Sheffield.

Plot 22 on Exchange Street

"Since opening in 2018 we have had the privilege of hosting countless numbers of internationally recognised artists and have successfully provided a safe night time space for thousands of guests.

"We offer creative workspace and development opportunities to over 15 independent sound systems, artists, designers and creative individuals including some of the oldest and most respected names in the Sheffield creative industry. We have done all this in just 24 months and now we are in a situation that forces us to seek help.”

The new effort from the MVT will take the form of a ‘Traffic Light’ campaign.

A map has been published which highlights venues considered safe until March 31st (Green– 353 venues), those at risk of closure between now and March 31st without additional support (Amber- 273 venues) and those in imminent danger of permanent closure (Red- 30 venues).

Michael Thompson, owner of Plot 22, said: "What's at risk with Plot 22 is much more than just a music venue. Plot 22 is a veritable creative hub that houses studio space for over 10 independent creative artists. It also provides a safe creative space that exists to support many others through ongoing workshops, projects and support sessions for young people and vulnerable adults in Sheffield.

“Despite losing tens of thousands in lost trade, throughout the lockdown period we've continued to be an invaluable source of support for artists in the underground community and beneficiaries we have met through outreach projects.

"We've lent out equipment so artists can continue to work from home, we've hosted livestream gigs and festivals, we've supported over 50 young people with creative activities and we're currently supporting vulnerable adults in recovery with free music and sound therapy sessions.

"The impact of Covid and lockdown on lost revenue through the venue was exacerbated as we'd been shut for about 18 months before the pandemic hit.

"We were relying on the bounce back trade in 2020 to take the business forward and due to the ongoing restrictions to the events industry, we're now at risk of losing the venue and the space that supports so many people in the community in so many different ways.”

A range of targeted activity under the #saveourvenues banner has been announced.

MVT are now urging everyone who cares about these venues to write to their local MP, council, local charities, and anyone else they can think of to demand action to prevent them being closed for good.

A new crowdfunding initiative powered by Crowdfunder has been launched to secure the future of these 30 GMVs.

By visiting a single landing page at people can choose an individual venue to donate to. If an individual target is reached by a particular venue the surplus donations will go towards supporting other venues in crisis.

You can also donate to Dryad Works’ fundraiser here and the Plot 22 fundraiser here.