The Shows Must Go On: Seaside Struggles with the Ramsgate Music Hall

Local music venues are the lifeblood of the music scene. It is a statement we are all aware of but one that unfortunately is a common point of discussion between music fans due to the increasing challenges for venues.

You hear it all the time, support your small cap venues and ensure bands have somewhere to begin their journey. The importance of this cannot be overstated and lo and behold it is true. At this time when a fan's ability to physically attend their local venue has been stripped away, this issue is more prominent than ever. So we at Noizze have decided to curate a list of the venues we feel are important in the areas we are based.

Tucked away by the seaside, in the furthest corner of Kent in the South East of England, NME's 2016 winner of 'Britains Best Small Venue' is situated on the edge of a public car park, just offshot of the town high street, this is where you will find the hidden gem that is the Ramsgate Music Hall.

Since opening it's doors in 2013, this unassuming space has hosted shows of incredible diversity, from big name touring acts such as Slowthai, Sleaford Mods and even Jarvis Cocker of PULP, to local heroes like doom outfit OHHMS, jungle revolutionist Congo Natty or prog wizards Lapis Lazuli. The community that Ramsgate Music Hall has built in this out of the way seaside town is remarkable - many attendees will turn up to these shows through pure trust in the venues calibre for pulling in engaging and entertaining artists from all around the globe and many artists who have performed at the venue remark on the quality of the sound inside.

Of course all of this has sadly been put to a complete, and very sudden halt due to the ongoing situation over the COVID-19 pandemic. Simply, the effects could be devastating for the town if the venue were not to survive this period as aside from a few pub spaces, this is the one and only fully established live music venue with a dedicated stage and sound system in Ramsgate. If it disappears, so with it go the touring bands and musicians too.

We approached André Dack - Directer at Ramsgate Music Hall - for an insight into what the ongoing situation has meant for him as the venues director:

“It's been 6 long weeks since we had a show at Ramsgate Music Hall. It feels like 6 months. Since March 16th, we have postponed or cancelled almost 30 gigs, scheduled from March all the way to December. It's crucial to note that venues won't just be affected by the lockdown itself - the impact of the coronavirus will be sustained well into 2021 and beyond. We have no idea how long social distancing measures will be in place, and this uncertainty is causing huge apprehension in the industry: among artists, agents, venues, and most crucially, the gig-goers themselves.

We have received our government grant, allowing us to pay our outgoings, despite no income, for the next couple of months. However, there is a significant chance that RMH won't find its form again until... this time next year. With that in mind, we need far more than the current grant the government has offered. We have applied for other funds, most notably from the Arts Council, and now we wait.

This is one of the most agonising aspects of the situation. It currently feels like a long waiting game.

In the meantime, we are working on ways to generate income. We recently released the recording of IDLES' 2018 performance at RMH on Bandcamp, where people can pay what they like with all proceeds going to the venue. An amazing gesture from the band, true to form. We are looking at replicating this idea, but not everyone is as easy, or as generous, as IDLES. It's not just the artists themselves: managers, agents and labels play a huge part. We also sell RMH merchandise online with the same donation scheme.

Personally speaking, I miss live music immensely. it feels like I've lost my purpose. I'd give anything to feel that incredible adrenaline of putting on a live show. My job is a sheer privilege, and I'm very fortunate to do what I do. Mental health is taking its toll right now, but I constantly remind myself that others are in a far worse situation.

I just hope we can all recover from this. This situation is becoming increasingly distressing, and I'm deeply concerned for all grassroots venues across the country. Music Venues Trust are doing amazing work. Without them, I think we'd already be gone.

If anyone can spare some money, please consider donating to your local music venue. Every little helps right now.

You can pick up a copies of the aforementioned Idles live record and merchandise online here, with all proceeds going straight towards the venue. As there is currently no exit plan in place and many insurers wont' pay out due to the pandemic, venues such as are relying on purchases - go grab that IDLES album, you know you want to.

Check out Ramsgate Music Hall on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on their website.


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