'Help keep our beloved music venue alive’

November 02 2020
'Help keep our beloved music venue alive’

As the effects of COVID-19 continue to ravage the country, independent venues are at the mercy of government grants and crowdfunding just to stay afloat.

Even for those able to reopen, a charity leader has warned that the 10pm curfew will leave businesses having to trade on an eighth of their usual income.
Totterdown’s own Thunderbolt venue is no different. Having to close its doors due to lockdown in March, and being unable to open due to social distancing rules, the Thunderbolt is fighting permanent closure. 
Having been turned down for an Arts Council emergency grant, and being ineligible as a sole trader for the £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund, the Thunderbolt is turning to its loyal audience to see it through. 
The venue has launched a Crowdfunder campaign as part of a national initiative by Music Venue Trust – Save our Venues – to prevent the closure of independents. Since the campaign launched in April, £2.9m has been raised around the UK, meaning only two of the 554 at-risk venues have closed permanently.
David McDonald, owner of the Thunderbolt, says: “We have been a part of the community in Bristol for the past 13 years.  We’re a player on the national touring circuit, and we’ve changed a lot of people’s lives through our music.”
The Thunderbolt is hoping to reopen in November or December 2020, says David, but depending on restrictions may have to stay closed until April 2021. 
“We’re counting on the Crowdfunder to get through, possibly until April. I don’t have any staff – I’m the bartender, the booker, and I greet the bands – but overhead costs are phenomenally expensive.” 
To supplement the Crowdfunder, David has teamed up with fellow Bristol music legends from the Louisiana, the Fleece and the Exchange to form a band called The Venues for a one-time-only fundraising song, ‘Save our Venues’. 
David says:“We’re actually competitors, but we all really respect one another, and are all keen to support music in Bristol. These guys are helping me to fundraise for the Thunderbolt, and we’re having a bit of fun at the same time.”  
All funds raised will be used to cover fixed costs including mortgage, utilities and repairs, and any money left over will be donated to the Music Venue Trust to support other independent venues facing similar difficulties. 
At the time of writing, the Thunderbolt has raised £7,500 of its £15,000 target. 
• Follow the Thunderbolt’s campaign at www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-thunderbolt-covid-19-appeal and stay up to date with news on Facebook @thunderbolt.bristol