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Source: Mayor of London

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has today announced emergency funding for some of the LGBTQ+ venues hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic has been catastrophic for LGBTQ+ venues. They were forced to close their doors to stop the spread on Covid-19, but are still incurring ongoing costs with no money coming in.

Eleven of the hardest hit venues across seven London boroughs have received grants from the Mayor’s Culture at Risk Business Support Fund of between £5,000 and £23,000 to help in the short-term with rent, staffing and supplier costs. Further City Hall funding is set to be given out to venues in the coming months.

Earlier, this year the Mayor launched his £2.3m emergency fund to support culture and creative industries at risk due to the impact of the coronavirus. £225,000 was provided to support LGBTQ+ venues in partnership with the Safer Sounds Partnership and Music Venue Trust, for which grants have been made so far totalling £128,500. £445,000 was also provided to support grassroots music venues, £1.5m has supported artists and creative businesses and a further £150,000 has supported independent cinemas across London.

The Mayor is determined to do everything he can to protect the capital’s LGBTQ+ nightlife after the number of LGBTQ+ venues fell from 124 in 2006 to just 47 in 2017. Since then, venue numbers have stabilised after interventions from the Mayor and the Night Czar.

These include publishing protections for venues in the Mayor’s draft London Plan and establishing the Culture at Risk Office, which has already supported 350 cultural spaces across the capital at risk of closure, including helping secure the future of LGBTQ+ venues.

The Mayor and Night Czar also created City Hall’s LGBTQ+ Venues Charter to help safeguard the future of London’s LGBTQ+ nightlife by providing practical support for developers, venues and pub companies in order to help protect venues at risk of closure or changing use, and encourage the opening of new venues.

Culture, creative industries and the night time economy are important economic drivers for London and will be integral in its recovery after the coronavirus crisis. The creative industries contribute £58 billion to London’s economy every year and provide one in six jobs in London, however without support the impact of Covid-19 is set to cost the economy £16.5bn and put 154,000 jobs at risk.

The Mayor is also providing help and advice to venues and creatives through the Culture at Risk Office and the London Growth Hub, the Pay It Forward London scheme to help customers buy goods and services in advance, and lobbying Government to get venues the support they need. This includes calling on Government to extend the furlough scheme for the cultural sector given the significant impact the pandemic has had on the industry.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am so proud to be the Mayor of a city which embraces openness and diversity. The pandemic has had a significant impact on our LGBTQ+ venues, which we know play a vital role in supporting the community, acting as a safe haven where they can feel comfortable and free to be who they are. That’s why we’ve been working hard to protect these spaces and why city hall is providing investment and support at a critical time for our venues to help secure a future for our vibrant LGBTQ+ scene across the capital.”

London’s Night Czar, Amy Lamé, said: “LGBTQ+ venues provide a welcoming space for the community as well as employment for thousands of Londoners. They support an ecosystem of talent that includes performers, DJs and promoters. This fund has been a lifeline for LGBTQ+ venues following the massive blow from the coronavirus pandemic and gives them a chance of survival as we move forward.”

Chief Executive Officer, Safer Business Network, Hannah Wadey, said: “LGBTQ+ venues are an extremely valuable part of London’s night-time offer.  Their vibrancy and diversity makes a huge contribution to the cultural experience of visitors to the city from home and abroad, as well as supporting the local LGBTQ+ community.  The vast majority of LGBTQ+ bars and clubs are independent and have been very hard hit by the current health crisis.  The Safer Sounds Partnership has been pleased to be able to support LGBTQ+ venues by offering advice, information and support as well as identifying appropriate financial support from both Government and the Mayor’s Cultural Fund, and assisting venues to access this where appropriate.  In most cases, the grants represent a vital life-line for businesses that simply wouldn’t have been able to re-open without the support that they offer. This support has enabled them to meet financial commitments and continue to trade for the foreseeable future.”

Owner of West Five Bar in Ealing, Bal Sidhu, said: “LGBTQ+ venues are very important to provide a venue open to all yet importantly remain a safe haven for members of the LGBTQ+ community. The entertainment industry has been struggling with more and more venues closing down or being replaced with residential units which could lead to certain arts and niche cabaret being lost in the UK, which would be a real shame.  In these testing times the support of the London Mayor and Safer sound team has been a tremendous lifeline in improving cash flow with easily accessible grants. This has helped us create a buffer to be able to establish payment plans. This truly gave venue owners who are mostly individuals and not necessarily part of larger organisations, some much needed light at the end of the tunnel”

ENDS

 

MIL OSI United Kingdom