Band on the Wall billed for expansion following Bank boost
One of Manchester’s most iconic music venues has secured its future with the support of a six-figure funding package from Lloyds Bank.
Based in the Northern Quarter, Band on the Wall has a musical history spanning more than 200 years and has hosted performances from the likes of Joy Division and Buzzcocks.
Alongside being a well-known music venue, Inner City Music – the company that owns and operates the business – is also a registered charity, management company and tour promoter, offering a range of classes and courses designed to nurture talent and promote hands-on learning within the music industry.
However, the business was hit hard by the coronavirus shutdown. Forced to cancel or postpone more than 400 events taking place between the start of lockdown and beginning of summer 2021, the company was left facing major cashflow issues and was forced to furlough the majority of its staff.
Turning to banking partner, Lloyds Bank, the business was able to secure a £150,000 funding package through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). This enabled the business to safeguard jobs for a small team of central management as well as covering fixed overheads and the costs of rescheduling work.
This has also allowed the team to bring forward plans to grow its venue space. Originally scheduled for 2021, the business has taken advantage of the shutdown to press on with plans for major expansion. Funded through grants from Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the business will transform the neighbouring derelict Victorian Cocozza building to create two new performance spaces that will double the venue’s overall capacity.
The plans also include scope for a number of classroom and rehearsal spaces where the business can continue its programme of community events working with schools to create music clubs, South Asian dance workshops and the founding of a youth folk orchestra for Manchester.
The plans are the latest phase of growth for the 200-year-old venue, which started life hosting performances of broadside ballads – folk songs that were printed and sold to the mill workers and families of Victorian Manchester – and was later at the epicentre of Manchester’s punk and reggae scenes.
Over the years the venue has continually lobbied for diversity and inclusion within the music industry and has given a platform to everything from up-and-coming local talent to world fusion and jazz.
Gavin Sharp, CEO at Inner City Music, said: “Music is all about shared spaces and bringing people together but sadly the coronavirus pandemic has forced the industry into hibernation.
“Not only has this funding allowed us to safeguard jobs for our core management team, it’s given us the financial headroom to move forward with our plans to expand the business.
“As custodians of this piece of Manchester’s musical history we look forward to emerging from the pandemic in a strong position, ready to celebrate not only the history of our home venue, but also the strong and vibrant musical heritage of all of Manchester’s communities.”
Liam O’Hara, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank, said: “coronavirus has had a huge impact on the entertainment industry and on businesses within its supply chain.
“Band on the Wall is facing significant uncertainty on when it can resume operations, but Gavin and the team have used the downtime wisely to achieve their future growth plans.
“We’re committed to supporting companies just like this one throughout the coronavirus crisis, helping them tackle immediate challenges and prepare for the future.”