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Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Four Horsemen Among Most At-Risk Music Venues in the UK

A prominent local pub is one of 30 music venues most at risk of closure in the country. Supported by the national #saveourvenues campaign, The Four Horsemen has set up a crowdfunder to help pay their bills…

It’s been a rough year for The Four Horsemen. The ’90s-inspired craft beer pub is a fixture of the Bournemouth night life. Hosting DJ nights, live music and stand-up in the city’s only micro-club. Owner Dan Sullivan describes it as “an incubator and showcase for local breakthrough and grassroots talent in art, music and culture within Bournemouth and the surrounding area”.

However, months of lockdown and social distancing restrictions have taken a toll. Now, The Four Horsemen is among the 30 most at-risk music venues in the country. Having exhausted all other avenues of support, they’ve now set up a crowdfunder. A last measure to help pay essential bills and keep themselves open.


The Four Horsemen is far from alone. The pandemic has crippled live music venues across the country. The Music Venue Trust estimates that 556 of the 670 independent UK music venues it represents are at imminent risk of permanent closure.

“80% of their income for the year has been wiped out,” said Mark Davyd, the Music Venue Trust CEO. “Unfortunately fixed expenditure like rent, salaries, services and insurance are still expected to be paid. This leaves the whole industry in an impossible position. Grassroots music venues are at the sharp end of that problem with very high fixed costs”.

Dan Sullivan agreed that the pandemic had “changed everything”, cutting The Four Horsemen’s capacity by “about 75%”.

“Like most of the night time economy, we’ve adapted our business to keep everyone safe during the pandemic,” he said. “Still, I don’t think we are alone in feeling scapegoated by the government for the spread of COVID. The 10pm curfew followed by a month-long lockdown during the Christmas period was a serious blow to the hospitality industry. The next three or four months are going to be tough, to put it mildly”.


Amid these difficulties, the #saveourvenues campaign is supporting The Four Horsemen. The national campaign, started by the Music Venue Trust, has raised over £1 million to help prevent the closure of hundreds of grassroots venues. Their initiatives include encouraging fans to “adopt a venue” by donating to their crowdfunders. Organising watch parties on social media is another initiative, for livestreamed shows by artists supporting the campaign.

“We’ve directly raised money to meet costs, and funded support for venues to tackle their legal and financial situations,” explained Mark Davyd. “We’ve also worked right across government, local authorities, the music industry and the public. All to build a jigsaw puzzle of support that has directly prevented closures”.

For Dan Sullivan, the support of the #saveourvenues campaign has been invaluable. “They’ve been amazing throughout this whole thing,” he said. “It’s got a lot of new eyes on just how tough it’s been. Hopefully people who love music will realise that it might not be there in the future if they don’t support it at a grassroots level now”.

As for Mark Davyd, the groundswell of support for the campaign and the help it has been able to provide venues like The Four Horsemen offers a ray of hope in what has been a grim year for live music. “We think if we work together on a sustained campaign around those at-risk venues, we can reach our aim. To Reopen Every Venue Safely”.

You can donate to The Four Horsemen’s #saveourvenues crowdfunder by clicking here. Also, for more local Catering and Hospitality stories, click here. Plus, you can follow HQB News on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube!

Tom Carter
Tom is an Oxford university graduate and budding journalist from Southampton. He studied history as an undergraduate at Wadham College. Music and culture, politics, local news and history are his among his favourite subjects to write about. And when not writing, he spends time playing guitar, reading, and walking his two dogs.

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