United By Music helps ease the pressure at Guildford’s Boileroom
Like most of the UK’s grassroots music venues, Guildford’s Boileroom was battered by the lockdowns. At one point its director, Dom Frazer, was unsure if its stage – which has hosted Ed Sheeran, Foals, The Bronx, The 1975 and Bastille in the early stages of their careers – would ever showcase another band.
The Boileroom shut its doors in March 2020 in response to Covid. But when it started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay ongoing costs and ensure its future, the response was overwhelming. Music fans and many of the musicians who had graced its stage chipped in to keep the lights on.
Dom, 45, said, “everyone jumped in to help. Within a month we had £35,000.”
Five months after the final lockdown, not only was The Boileroom hosting gigs again, but Dom had opened a second Guildford venue called the New House Art Space. Housed in an old warehouse, it features a gallery, 20 artist’s studios and a cafe.
The Boileroom’s recovery was also helped by the United By Music Tour, a partnership between The National Lottery and Music Venue Trust to help the UK’s small music venues back on their feet.
By underwriting the full touring and production costs of the artists taking part and offering players a free‡ ‘plus one’ ticket to each gig, the United By Music Tour provides a real boost to struggling venues. Now in its third year, the United By Music Tour will see a host of hot acts including Blossoms, Sleeper, Metronomy and Cat Burns perform 150 gigs at 130 venues across the UK during 2023.
Dom is looking forward to a United By Music performance by Canadian rock band The Dirty Nil, who perform at The Boileroom on 27th July 2023.
Dom believes one of the reasons small venues like The Boileroom are so important is that they’re “R&D centres for the music industry”. She said, “Lots of people who have worked at The Boileroom, and many other grassroots venues across the country, go on to work in the industry in one way or the other.”
For example, one of Dom’s former colleagues has gone on to become Take That’s manager. Another who started working as Dom’s sound engineer at the age of 18, is now engineering big arena shows and Glastonbury Festival gigs.
Dom said, “What we do in this industry is basically train artists and people to take the next step. While it is a challenge financially, it can be really rewarding because it’s like an extended family."
Small venues shape the people who pass through their doors. Dom said, “They have a huge impact on young people who are at a point in their lives when they’re considering how they identify, who they are or where they want to go.
“These places teach you to be a creative thinker and how to harness that in your life. You don’t have to be working in a creative sector to do that; you can be a lawyer and still be a creative thinker. We need places that encourage that and encourage people to exist in a different sphere.”
20th June 2023
‡Use any retail or online National Lottery ticket, Scratchcard or Instant Win Game ticket purchased from 1st January 2023 to get free entry for one guest accompanying a full-price ticket holder. Subject to availability. Players must be 18+. Venue has ultimate discretion on entry.
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