The National Lottery has announced it will contribute £1 million to underwrite the touring and production costs of more than 300 live performances at grassroots venues this summer.
Lottery funding will support some 20 tours as well as one-off performances by big names such as Sir Tom Jones, Rag’n’Bone Man, Mahalia, James Arthur, Frank Turner, Sam Fender and Fontaines DC.
Organisers hope the partnership with the Music Venue Trust will allow the grassroots sector to start promoting shows again ahead of the expected end of lockdown restrictions on July 19.
It comes after renewed calls from the entertainment sector for additional support and guidance – including a Government-backed coronavirus cancellation scheme for the live music industry.
Sir Tom said: “Musicians can record in their bedrooms, but they can’t learn to perform in public without a place to play. Without that, there is no way you can communicate directly to people.
“It’ll be tough to hone your skills and you’ll never have the thrill of feeling their feedback. Without a grassroots music venue, the neighbourhood won’t have a place where people can come together to discover and support a new talent.
“So support your local pub, club, gym or church or wherever someone has the guts to bring in some entertainment, it makes all the difference both to budding artists and the community.
“I’m delighted to be able to perform a special show as part of The National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour and to be celebrating the return of live music.”
Half the capacity for the concerts, up to 30,000 tickets, will be gifted to National Lottery players and every lottery ticket holder will be invited to bring a plus-one for free.
Money for the initiative comes from a National Lottery promotional fund and is not funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by its operator Camelot.
Punk singer-songwriter Frank Turner, a patron of the Music Venue Trust, said: “It’s hard to express how exciting it is to be on the verge of bringing it back as part of the National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour.”
He added: “It’s an entire culture that revolves around bringing people together, closing up the gaps, showing us that we can be more than the sum of our parts.
“The whole experience, being at a show, in the crowd, in the wings or on the stage, is something we’ve all missed so very much, and I cannot wait to get back to it. I also can’t promise I won’t shed a tear. Bring it on.”
Former X Factor contestant James Arthur said: “Grassroots Music Venues aren’t just spaces where musicians start their careers, they are also the places where people can fall in love with music, with artists, for the first time.
“They inspire people to want to create music, and to follow their passion for music and creativity. We’ve all missed the thrill of live music so much during this crisis, and I can’t wait to be part of this initiative to Revive Live music with The National Lottery and Music Venue Trust.”
Irish post-punk band Fontaines DC said: “If you don’t gig then you don’t really exist, a record is a photograph, easily faked.
“It’s only when you see a band live that you know who they really are – if they’re the real deal or if they’re just a bunch of phonies.”
They added: “We’re doing this show as part of The National Lottery’s Revive Live Tour to reconnect with the real stuff, and make sure that we’re still a half decent band. And God knows we all need a gig.”
The Music Venue Trust charity was created in January 2014 to protect and improve the UK live music network by securing the long-term future of its grassroots music venues.
During the pandemic it has campaigned for Government support and identified venues at risk of closure.
Tickets for The National Lottery Revive Live Tour go on sale on Monday July 12 from 8pm.