The reopening of performance venues in Scotland is now provisionally rescheduled for October 5 but, ominously, further lockdown is always just one more illegal rave away.

Scottish Government support of the performing arts is, supposedly, evidenced by the £12.5M Performance Venue Fund given to Creative Scotland – but closer inspection reveals that only larger venues are likely to qualify and, without meaningfully detailed criteria for grant, no awards have actually been made.

Yet most venues have already exhausted their meagre reserves and struggle to meet ongoing costs – even before furlough is phased out – and, almost perversely, funding the proposed new cultural hub for Edinburgh could be at the expense of struggling others.

In principle, awards are available to all organisations, whether already funded by Creative Scotland or not, but funding, historically, has always gravitated towards the select few – and, indeed, the convenor of the Glasgow Licensing Forum, Donald MacLeod, has publicly charged the Scottish Government with cultural elitism at the expense of pubs and clubs.

Already, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association warns of substantial job losses – and the future of the locked-down nightclub sector is even more uncertain. Pubs and clubs are part of contemporary culture – but for many the economic writing may already be on the wall.

My own organisation, the Edinburgh Society of Musicians, obtained £10,000 from the first tranche of grant funding but does not qualify for second tranche funding. Not all businesses met the first tranche criteria but, for many who did, the sum was little more effective than a sticking plaster over an arterial bleed –given that even mothballed premises incur substantial ongoing costs. Our grant did not even cover the loss of vital Edinburgh Festival income but we are fortunate by comparison with others – being blessed with substantial cash reserves, outright ownership of our premises and a highly successful business model letting out space for rehearsals, teaching and meetings. Unable to host our usual series of 36 recitals a year, we have even been able, temporarily, to repurpose the salon as a studio providing a low-cost recording and streaming platform. Few, if any, similar societies have our resources and, as a consequence, most are now sadly dormant.

Critically, for small venues, coronavirus compliance is challenging and two metre distancing (more for vocalists and wind players) makes for non-viable audience numbers. In addition, provision of interval refreshments – a useful income stream for many and an important social dimension for all – becomes impossible given that refreshment areas tend to be small with unacceptable pinch-points.

Nor is there even any guarantee of an audience. The BMA risk-scoring Guidelines suggest that individuals with a risk factor of 3 or more should consider avoiding non-essential activities. In context, before even beginning to take into account special factors, any 50-plus white male with a relatively minor underlying health condition falls into the vulnerable category. Despite being able to run “living room” recitals during lockdown, ESM has seen a dramatic fall in active membership and if this pattern is replicated elsewhere then the augurs for others are not good.

The bottom line is, sadly, that the small venues so vital to Scotland’s vibrant musical culture, and for the future of live performance itself, have been all but destroyed and may never fully recover.

Peter F Scott is an Executive Director of the Edinburgh Society of Musicians – Scotland’s oldest established music society.