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Ipswich music venue issues plea for support as coronavirus threatens future

PUBLISHED: 15:03 28 April 2020

The Smokehouse has championed up-and-coming performers playing original music, such as Verb T here. Picture: STUART GILSON

The Smokehouse has championed up-and-coming performers playing original music, such as Verb T here. Picture: STUART GILSON

Stuart Gilson

An Ipswich music venue which hosts scores of gigs, project sessions and community events has launched an online fundraising plea to help keep it afloat.

The Smokehouse owner and manager Joe Bailey. Picture: DAVID LANGDONThe Smokehouse owner and manager Joe Bailey. Picture: DAVID LANGDON

The Smokehouse, part of the South Street Studios complex run by community interest company Out Loud Music, was forced to close on March 16 because of the social distancing measures announced in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

MORE: Follow the Suffolk Coronavirus Facebook page here for the latest updates

With social distancing expected to remain for the coming weeks and months, even once lockdown measures are eased, the future for music venues remains unclear.

To help stay afloat, the venue has called on the community it serves to help by making a donation.

Joe Bailey who runs the venue said: “We made the difficult decision to close our doors to the public on March 16.

“Subsequent social distancing measures put in place by the UK government due to the Covid-19 pandemic have triggered the cancellation and postponement of all gigs for the foreseeable future.

“Financially, the cancellation of these shows not only means a loss of income for our bands and promoters but also the loss of guaranteed income for our freelance staff including sound engineers, lighting operators, bar staff and administrators.

The Smokehouse in Ipswich has been forced to close its doors while the coronavirus pandemic continues, and now needs financial support to survive. Picture: STUART GILSONThe Smokehouse in Ipswich has been forced to close its doors while the coronavirus pandemic continues, and now needs financial support to survive. Picture: STUART GILSON

MORE: How South Street Studios helps support Ipswich youngsters

“We would therefore appreciate any donations made by the public. These are difficult times across the whole industry, for venues, artists and promoters.

“There are venues across the world facing the same challenges as we are. We are facing an uncertain future after building such a strong reputation.”

As well as putting on gigs, the venue also hosts opportunities for youngsters wishing to go into sound production as a future career, community radio, recording space to promote local bands and educational projects for youngsters with special educational needs and disabilities and from deprived communities.

Penelope Isles performing at a packed Smokehouse in Ipswich during the Independent Venue Week celebrations in 2020. Picture: STUART GILSONPenelope Isles performing at a packed Smokehouse in Ipswich during the Independent Venue Week celebrations in 2020. Picture: STUART GILSON

It is also the organiser for the Sound City Ipswich festival and conference which highlights the town as a destination for touring artists.

It has received some support from government initiatives to cover the cost of rent, but does not cover all of the costs while it is not bringing in any income from gigs, studio bookings or bar takings.

So far, more than £3,600 has been pledged by supporters towards a target of £12,000.

In a post on the Crowdfunder page, the Smokehouse team said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to all who have donated to our project so far. It has been humbling to see so many wonderful, thoughtful and supportive comments. We read them all and it means a great deal to us.”

To help support the venue, visit the Crowdfunder page here.

To stay up-to-date with all the coronavirus updates in Suffolk, sign up to the daily newsletter here or bookmark the EADT coronavirus topic page here.


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