Some would argue coming from a small town in the UK could come as a bit of a disadvantage.
Yet there’s venues hosting community-driven live events week-in-week-out in such towns that can create true lifelong fans; these establishments connect locals with the pluck of young musicians looking to perform in front of their first crowds.
Arden Inn’s landlord Mark Jackson highlighted these ‘early proving grounds’ are vital to the development of artists and whilst there’s plenty of new online avenues to expose yourself - nothing beats live music!
“When you break it down, the loss of a venue in any town similar to Accrington would be devastating,” said Jackson.
“For example, our local college needs places such as ourselves to offer its music students real life experiences and the opportunity to experiment.
“We may completely miss hundreds of local talents out there that could give up on their dreams if they can’t land their first gigs, their first fans.”
Despite being one of the only live music outlets in Accrington and having recently ranked as one of the top venues in Lancashire, the Arden has been branded as one of the 30 most at risk by Music Venue Trust (MVT).
And similar to other smaller venues, it’s the inability to pack the place that’s causing such troubles (and nobody wants a socially distanced gig!)
“We’ve been fortunate enough to develop into a real centre of the community as well as being a live music venue,” continued Jackson.
“We usually pack the place out every Friday, Saturday & Sunday with around 100 in at anyone time. Now we are allowed 30 in - think about the complete logistical changes that come from that, it simply won’t pay the bills and can’t even pay for a singer.”
The community has shown its support across MVT’s crowdfunding campaign and Jackson expressed his joy to see other chipping in where possible.
“It really is brilliant that many locals and bands have donated where they can. Accrington is not a well off community by many means so when they do donate it's great and reaffirms that people do appreciate what we do here.”
Jackson added that the government’s furlough and funding schemes have been great for both the entertainment and hospitality sectors however he believes there’s a complete still a lack of understanding from those above.
He said: “The government needs to decide what they are doing a week before it happens, not tell us at midnight the day before as this is simply no good for us.
“They need to make guidelines and stick to them, not keep changing their minds and pretending that it's all our fault.
“For the most part, pubs and venues have stuck to the rules, cleaned, sanitised, reduced seating, reduced opening, reduced staffing - all for no extra income.”
Looking forward, the capped capacity makes for a bleak future until things change...
He concluded: “Despite the easing of lockdown and the tiers, I don’t see anything getting better until March 2021 and that is still a fair distance away.
“They may let us reopen but I can’t see it generating enough income because of this silly rule of 6 where people can't mix in the cleanest well run places such as pubs and venues.”
Read more about the Arden Inn’s story and donate here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/ardeninnlivemusicpub-accrington