Welcome to The Big Issue’s Venue Watch. The Big Issue has long been a passionate supporter of grassroots music and musicians across the UK. However, the UK music industry is facing a crisis. The life of working musicians across the UK has become incredibly hard. In fact, we have a crisis across all our creative industries. From the Covid and Brexit issues that have destroyed careers, to the pitiful royalties offered by streaming platforms, to venues paying virtually nothing or even asking musicians for money to play, it’s never been tougher to make a living through music.
However, an even more pressing issue is the growing number of closures across the UK of music venues both big and small. The problems facing smaller grassroots venues are many and varied. From unscrupulous landlords to mad energy bills, to dodgy drinks companies. The list goes on.
We’re hoping to highlight the problems faced by so many of our under-threat and vitally important grassroots music venues. The fact that we are losing so many small music venues, we hope, will galvanise people to take action.
The fantastic Music Venue Trust are protecting as many venues as they can, while putting pressure on the government to do more to preserve our cultural landscape. But we all can act too. That’s why we’ve launched The Big Issue’s Venue Watch.
We’re asking you to become involved in helping save your local grassroots music venue. Please do reach out to us if you know of a venue under threat. Together we can make a change.
Hot Box, Chelmsford
Here’s the first one we’re putting in the spotlight: Hot Box in Chelmsford. This amazing, 140-capacity venue hosts an incredibly diverse and hugely eclectic series of bands, artists, cabaret, poetry, quiz nights, comedy and more. It’s possibly the only venue in the UK that puts on regular funk nights and a chess club. But it’s in trouble. Why?