April Update

Fringe Festival Cancelled

Announced today, the Fringe Festival is officially cancelled this August. For performers who have already registered with the Fringe, they are offering either a full refund of registration fees or to defer your registration to an equivalent listing next year. For the shows in our own programme, we will be in contact very soon to work out next steps.

There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and it’s difficult to imagine what August in Edinburgh might look like without the Fringe, but assuming that we could return to our regularly scheduled programming by August, it could be a chance for the gargantuan, international festival to downsize to a manageable local level and for a small grass-roots festival to grow into the spaces it leaves behind. Many of the performers booked into (non-pop-up) venues throughout Edinburgh are local, and with their shows already arranged, and the arts community struggling, it seems reasonable to continue with a number of these shows on a smaller scale and with a more local audience. No one knows what the world will look like in a week, let alone four months, so any planning for our programme in August will likely be done very last-minute.

The future

We can’t say for certain what we will do without the Fringe festival, but as long as we are open, we will do something. There is no way to say how we, as a venue, will be able to operate in August, or in general through to the end of the year, but we certainly aim to find a way, at the very least, to keep our typical programming running as fully as we can. Under normal circumstances, we would host 22+ bands and well over 100 musicians per week. With an expected downturn in attendance, we won’t be able to continue exactly as before, but we are acutely aware of the musicians who depend upon us for gig-space and will do whatever we can to support them.

As this crisis effects everyone across the arts and hospitality sector, we hope to see more unity arising, with everyone in the same boat. For the future of the arts it is vital that venues, not just us, but all venues, survive this crisis. Music venues rely upon each other to create a network for bands to tour through, and if we are too far from each other, band travel times and costs can make a tour fall apart. We are frequently the only Scottish stop on a jazz band’s tour schedule, even for major musicians, and we often try to co-ordinate our bookings with The Blue Lamp in Aberdeen or Swing venue and The Blue Arrow in Glasgow to bring international bands further into Scotland. Losing even a single venue in Newcastle or Manchester however, could easily kill what little international touring we have.

Keep Music Live

If you are lucky enough to be able to work from home and have secure work and income through this crisis, please keep donating to the hardest hit areas right now. It doesn’t have to be a lot, you could donate a virtual pint to this campaign, or buy your favourite artists music for less than a tenner. Help for Musicians have set up a hardship fund to distribute small grants to struggling musicians, which you can donate to in order to help them reach more people.

You could also donate to the Music Venue Trust who are working tirelessly to save music venues across the UK (with an excellent success rate), and who, earlier this year, successfully campaigned for 50% rates relief for grass-roots music venues in England and Wales and plan to do the same for the rest of the UK. The venue-specific information that they provide is extremely useful and reassuring and they are currently in the process of setting up a support network to enable them to work directly with struggling venues and provide personalised guidance.

Or, in a more oddly indirect way, you could even just buy yourself a National Lottery ticket as they fund a huge number of charities, including Creative Scotland, meaning that their funding capabilities are dependent upon the number of people buying lottery tickets at any given time. Creative Scotland have just announced three new funding programmes to sustain the arts through this crisis. One of which is, most unusually, open to organisations and businesses, and so may help small venues such as ourselves, and promoters such as small music labels, to stay afloat. Win-win?

To support The Jazz Bar directly, we have t-shirts and CDs for sale, or you can donate to us, any amount that you wish, for example as little as what you might normally spend on entry fees, or on a couple of drinks. We will continue to post about our cancelled programme and some of our favourite bands and musicians in the weeks to come.

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