Cavern Club Once Again Forced to Close Doors
Liverpool's iconic Cavern Club has been forced to close its doors for the third time this year.
In light of new lockdown restrictions in the region, the world-famous music venue will suspend business until further notice. Included in this are the club itself, the Cavern Pub and Festival Restaurant. An announcement on the club website read: "...this is the last decision we wanted to make but it is out of our control at this time. We will open our doors as soon as we feel we are able to."
The closure has led to the cancellation of once nightly-held live performances, and placed the venue under financial strain.
Across the country, many other independent venues are in similar positions. Throughout 2020, an estimated 90% of grassroots venues found themselves under threat of permanent closure, including Manchester's Deaf Institute and The Cluny in Newcastle.
In response to COVID-19's impact on the industry, umbrella organisation Music UK launched their 'Let The Music Play' campaign, aiming to secure financial support from the government to ensure a future for live music. Unveiled on 2nd July 2020, it began with an open letter to the UK government with three main requests:
"1. A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing
2. An immediate comprehensive business and employment support package and access to finance.
3. Full VAT exemption on ticket sales."
The campaign quickly amassed backing from a multitude of musicians, including Paul McCartney and Dua Lipa. It proved successful, with the government issuing a £1.57 billion support package for the arts and music industry. Of this, the Cavern Club received a grant of £525,000 in October, which helped it to recover from the detriment of the pandemic. However, Cavern Director Bill Heckle stated that the subsidy covered just 20% of total losses, meaning there are still financial pressures to be faced.
Despite a challenging year, the Cavern Club organisers have found ways of hosting alternative COVID-secure events. The annual International Beatleweek would usually play host to live performances from the world's most renowned Beatles-themed acts; this August, it took place in the form of pre-recorded sets enjoyed by a socially-distanced audience inside the club, as well as fans all over the globe who tuned in via livestream.
The event, dubbed 'Virtually Beatleweek', benefitted both the club and the individual musicians, many of whom rely on performing as a primary source of income. The line-up featured newcomers and returning performers, including Brazilian tribute band Beat & Shout and The Mona Lisa Twins from Austria.
The Cavern have also shown support for their thirty resident performers by pledging guaranteed gigs for them over the next six months. These will be held either onstage or as livestreams depending on the ever-changing restrictions, ensuring steady work for the artists regardless.
The organisers are hopeful for the future of the Cavern, having announced plans for Beatleweek 2021 to go ahead as normal. Heckle said: "We are committed to making next year's festival a real celebration for all."