Suffolk

Coronavirus: Ipswich music venue saved with £12k from crowdfunding

Piers James
Image caption The Smokehouse a capacity for about 60 people in normal times and has hosted local talent including Piers James, who supported Ed Sheeran in Chantry Park last year

A small live music venue has been kept afloat by raising more than £12,000 from crowdfunding since it closed because of coronavirus.

The Smokehouse in Ipswich shut its doors on 16 March, but is now ready to host socially-distanced gigs as part of festival streamed online.

However, it will not be taking part in this year's Sound City Ipswich, which has been postponed.

Smokehouse manager Joe Bailey said the venue would "come back stronger".

Lockdown meant its schedule of spring and summer gigs had to be cancelled.

The organisers of the Sound City Ipswich one-day music festival, which debuted at several venues last year including The Smokehouse, have just announced they are postponing the November 2020 event until next year due to "uncertainty around large gatherings".

Image copyright Miff Pleasant
Image caption 1980s John Peel favourites The Stupids played at The Smokehouse during last year's Sound City Ipswich, which has been postponed this year

The Smokehouse raised £12,755 with donations from 335 people which will be used to support bar staff and sound engineers.

A business grant from Ipswich Borough Council and an emergency grant from Arts Council England have also helped the venue pay its overheads during lockdown.

The venue will host its first gig on Thursday, which combined with pre-recorded sets, will produce a 13-hour online festival called Lock East Live featuring El Emcee, Anorak Patch and Underline The Sky.

Mr Bailey told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: "We've all missed live music massively and we'll try to do what we can to help promote the talent in our area.

"It will certainly be different for the artists and audience working in the digital domain."

Image caption Warmduscher performed at The Smokehouse as part of Independent Venue Week in January, and were due to perform at Sound City Ipswich in 2019

On Monday, £1.57bn of support for the arts was announced by the government, including music venues.

The government's secretary of state for culture, Oliver Dowden, said institutions could apply for the government's emergency money through industry bodies and would be asked to prove how they contributed to wider economic growth.

He said the government was confident its emergency package would protect the majority of jobs in the culture sector - but not all.

In April, a Save our Venues campaign by the Music Venue Trust was launched nationally to help the grassroots live music scene weather the outbreak.

The Trust described the government fund as a "lifeline".

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