Could taxpayers help save Sheffield’s live music venues?

Could taxpayers help save Sheffield’s live music venues? supporting image

The Arctic Monkeys outside the Boardwalk, Snig Hill, Sheffield

The Arctic Monkeys, The Human League, Joe Cocker - the city hashe biggest n nurtured some of tames in the music biz. But where is the next generation coming from?

Would you be prepared to see public money spent on protecting Sheffield’s clubs, live music venues and galleries, if it meant a better city centre and the emergence of more talent of world-beating bands like the Arctic Monkeys


Those are the questions we’ve been debating at Vibe HQ this week after calls for more to be done to support small venues like the city’s late, lamented Boardwalk, which helped to launch the careers of Alex Turner and co, as well as many others.


The Boardwalk closed in 2010 and that, says public affairs expert Rob Fuller, is part of a UK-wide problem.


Writing on Twitter , he says that 35 per cent of the UK’s grassroots music venues closed between 2007 and 2015, with only 3 per cent receiving any funding.


“The Arctic Monkeys have made five albums, each platinum-selling and chart topping across the world - a global export.”


And he asks: “The UK currently accounts for 17 per cent of global music sales. Is this sustainable? Where does the next generation of artists come from?”


His thoughts were echoed by academics Kate Hardy and Tom Gillespie who are urging the government and local authorities to support ‘underground cultural spaces’ as part of a package of measures which they say are needed to protect our city centres and their cultural life.


“In Berlin, techno clubs are considered to have cultural significance and given protected tax status. The grand council of the night works directly with local authorities to defend the liberties of those engaged in night culture,” they say.


Rob Fuller was commenting on a call in The Times (paywall) by Philip Collins, a former culture adviser to the last Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who suggests that, after Brexit, the Government needs to protect the UK music industry by changing current EU rules which allow big technology companies to dodge liability for copyright on their sites, giving them free content with inadequate payment for artists.


“Of the Top Ten videos ever watched on YouTube, nine are music clips. In 2015 there were 27 billion music videos streamed in the UK but only £24 million was paid to labels and artists in royalties, which is less than was generated by the sale of vinyl records,” writes Collins.


He says this is a major factor in the music industry drastically reducing the amount of money it spends developing new talent.


“The collapse of this budget for experiments means that bands do not have long to make it. The appetite for risk-taking has fallen. The market has become more conservative, both splitting into niches by genre and tending towards the monopoly of the big artists. Solo artists are easier to market; the last big band to emerge were Gordon Brown’s favourite, Arctic Monkeys,” he claims.


So what do you think? Which bands that went on to greatness have you seen in Sheffield, and where? What’s your favourite music venue, past or present?

Let us know in the comments below.




The Boardwalk, Snig Hill

Originally The Black Swan, this venue became the Boardwalk, which closed in 2010, despite having helped to launch the careers of several bands who played there, including The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Arctic Monkeys and another local favourite, Little Man Tate, above.

How many of these do you remember?


The Limit Club, West Street.

Legendary tiny venue that played host to a veritable who’s who of 70s and 80s bands – local and not-so-local.


The Leadmill, Leadmill Road

Still going strong after nearly 40 years. Came to prominence at the same time as The Human League, ABC, Heaven 17 and Cabaret Voltaire. Fun fact: The Housemartins once decided to queue for their own gig. The bouncers refused to let them in! More information here.


Esquire Club , Leadmill Road.

A forerunner of the Leadmill, The Esquire hosted the likes of Rod Steward and Long John Baldry in the sixties. The owner ended up being jailed for life for a bomb attack on a former girlfriend.


Club 60, West Bar

A mid-sixties cellar club, often flooded in the winter by the nearby river Don. Sheffield’s own Joe Cocker played there, and so did Screaming Lord Sutch. It later became a recording studio.


The King Mojo Club (aka the Mojo), Pitsmoor Road

Another legend run by bouffant bon viveur Peter Stringfellow, who went on to gain fame as the brains behind Stringfellows in London. Big names that played here included Pink Floyd, among many, many others.


The Pheasant, Sheffield Lane Top

Sheffield guitar virtuoso Frank White, the man who turned down the chance to join the Rolling Stones, had a residency here for 28 years. His nephew, Richard Hawley, used to watch him perform here before going on to stardom himself.


The O2 Academy, Arundel Gate

A relative newcomer, the O2 opened in 2008, in premises formerly occupied by the Roxy - a nightclub legend in its own right. Local lads Reverend and the Makers played on the opening night.

All comments

Already Registered?

Please to your account to leave a comment.

Not got an account?

Please for a free account.