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#CancelTheCurfew

The new ’10pm’ curfew has been crippling not just for Trinity but the live music sector and hospitality as a whole.

Despite little or no evidence this Government has essentially shut down the night time economy and because we are all technically still allowed to trade the Government doesn’t have to support us in any way or form. But get this straight – a 10pm curfew means closing at 9.30pm. Next to no venues or pubs shut at 11pm these days anyway, so the idea that the government has taken just an innocent little hour away is a complete falsehood.

Last week we took 25% of the money we took this time last year. Even when the initial Covid restrictions came in, with a reduced capacity and hours, we were only taking 50% of what we took last year but we did as we were told. We sanitised your hands. We kept you in groups of six. We kept you 1+ metre apart. We tracked and traced you. We shielded the bars. We put in table seperators and one way systems. We told you to sit down when you’d had a few and the rules got a little hazy. But we were there. Keeping you, and our staff, as safe as we possibly could. All at an enormous cost to ourselves in PPE, increased staff overheads and enhanced cleaning regimes.

But now we have the curfew. The ridculous curfew that the Government tell us is working as cases rise and local lockdowns continue out of control. The curfew that is not stopping house parties. The curfew that sees a 40 person queue outside our nearest off licence on Fridays & Saturday nights at 10pm. A curfew that sees every single pub kicking out at the same time, singing and dancing in the streets, piling onto the tubes and buses together.

And these people buying this booze? Are they tracked & traced? Are they sanitising their hands at the house party? Are they in groups of six? No of course they are not. The government will tell you the curfew is working. It works as well as their ‘world beating’ track & trace system.

We have been in Harrow for the best part of 30 years. The only independant venue to last that long within a radius of 10 miles. Not everyone likes us for sure, as we do things from the left-field, but during that time we have employed 1000s of people, right through the supply chain. Students at the Music College doing their degrees, Sound Engineers who have gone on to set up their own studios, Artists who have gone onto to have major retrospectives, promoters & bookers who ended up booking worldwide festivals & arena tours. We are important. We are a breeding ground.

And the bands. 1000’s of bands, open mics, jam nights, acoustic nights, choirs. Not everyone went on to fill the O2 but we gave everyone a chance. But some did fill the O2! Bastille, Chase & Status, Alabama 3, Scouting for Girls, Kate Nash, Reverend & the Makers, Billy Bragg, The Cribs, Edwyn Collins, DJ Ironik just to name a handful. Think how many number one albums came from this pool alone.

Then there’s our charity & political work. We must have raised tens of thousands of pounds for both local & national charities over the years, through charity gigs, quizzes & festivals and raised awareness and were a base for campaigning on numerous important issues. This stuff is important to us and to them.

And not to mention the 1000’s of DJs, Private Parties, Comedy Nights, Rehearsals, Community Clubs & Club Nights that have kept you dancing until the wee hours. We were the first ever venue in Harrow to get a late licence. We were pioneers in the night time economy.

And you guys! The people. The weddings. The kids. (The divorces!). THE FRIENDS!! The tens of thousands who have crossed our threshold.

We are now in a situation where the losses are unsustainable. This year we have been closed for 3 and a half months, we have missed every Bank Holiday, Easter, Euro 2020, The Olympics, all Wembley football matches and now we are told we are losing Halloween, Christmas & New Year. We got nothing from the Government during this time apart from Furlough money which went to our awesome staff.

The Government has told you that all music venues will be saved by the much lauded Cultural Recovery Fund. Oliver Dowden is wheeled out intermittantly to tell you all they care about culture. Well we have applied for the fund and we can tell you that it took 3 people, 6 weeks of 12 hour days to prepare a submission. We had to spend £6000 on Accountancy fees to get the finance documents they required. It also took an amazing amount of help from the awesome Music Venue Trust who helped us with hours of webinars, personal advisors, accounts experts and above all a great deal of moral support.

The fund is administered by Arts Council England. While they are well meaning and lovely people they clearly have no real concept of how grassroots music venues work or operate and have been swamped by our sector. The decision date has already been extended due to them being overwhelmed. They are really are our last hope for survival, but we are not holding our breath as the chance of an award seems to be around 50-50. Not quite how the Government tells it is it?

We say thank you to those of you who have supported us over the years and particularly through this crisis. You have all been awesome.

But with a unrelenting landlord, the bills spiralling and the inability to put on live events to attract an earlier crowd things are looking bleak. We of course will fight tooth & nail to survive. We always have done.

But we say to Government…

#CancelThe Curfew #SaveOurVenues #LetTheMusicPlay

Chris Perdue

October 2020.

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