By Scott Wright

THE co-owner of the renowned Sub Club in Glasgow has called for an end to the “huge disparity” between the different support funds launched by the Scottish Government to help nightclubs and live music venues survive the coronavirus crisis.

The Sub Club was granted £40,000 under the Grassroots Music Venues Stabilisation Fund last year. While its application to that fund was under way, ministers opened up a further pot of cash, the Culture Organisations and Venues Recovery Fund, which offered the chance for even bigger grants. However, by then it was too late for the Sub Club to apply.

Mike Grieve, who is also chairman of the Night Time Industries Association in Scotland, said: “There needs to be some equilibrium between the schemes. The parameters for these two funds are completely different, and the amount of money available between the two funds are completely different.

"We ended up, like others, in the invidious position of being offered some funding, in our case £40,000, from the grassroots music fund, but if we accepted that we could not apply for the COVR fund, which had a cap of £150,000. So we had to decide whether to stick or twist.

"On the basis of the information available to us, we decided to accept the grassroots music venue funding. Subsequently, a considerable amount of venues around the country got the full £150,000 from the other fund. That disparity as never been levelled out.”

The Sub Club is now applying for the second round of funding under the Grassroots Music Venues Stabilisation Fund, which was launched in January. But even if the club qualifies for a maximum grant of £70,000, which would be designed to provide support until June, it would still be some way short of the funding available under the COVR fund.

Mr Grieve said: “That would still leave us significantly disadvantaged to other venues within a stone’s throw of our own front door. That is a core issue for us as an industry body, and we want to see the Scottish Government sort that out.”

Mr Grieve observed that the funding available in Scotland has so far has been significantly lower than the grants which have been distributed to clubs and venues in England. Some venues in England have received grants of up to £1.5 million from comparable funds. “So there is a huge gap here in funding for important cultural venues in Scotland,” he added.

Mulling the outlook for the sector, Mr Grieve believes it will be autumn before nightclubs and live music venues are able to open again. He said he could envisage clubs and venues reopening with reduced capacities from September. But he declared that if social distancing was still in force it would not be viable, stating that it “just kills the whole buzz of nightlife”.

He added: “It is a physical impossibility to operate that in a nightclub setting.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We have acted quickly to support grassroots music venues – the heartbeat of local music scenes – providing £6.2 million of support through our Grassroots Music Venues Stabilisation Fund over two rounds of funding. We have also supported those who work in the music industry through our creative freelancers hardship fund.

“In total, more than £125m of additional funding to support culture and heritage in Scotland has been allocated since the start of the pandemic.

"This month additional funding of £17.5m was announced for artistic freelancers and events. This also includes support for creative freelancers, flagship venues, youth arts, and independent cinemas as well as funding for arts projects and commissions. The sector has also been able to access other forms of business support.

“We will continue to listen to the needs of the sector and do everything within our powers to support them through this crisis.”