Whitchurch grassroots music venue Percy's Café Bar calling for help to survive

Percy's Café Bar, in Whitchurch, is trying to raise money to cover its losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Kate Broadhead from Percy's, in Whitchurch, which has temporarily changed to selling antiques and curios so it can stay open to make money during the Covid-19 lockdown
Kate Broadhead from Percy's, in Whitchurch, which has temporarily changed to selling antiques and curios so it can stay open to make money during the Covid-19 lockdown

Mark Dawson, owner of the grassroots music venue, said he hasn't had any real financial support from the Government apart from the furlough scheme and rates relief, so started a GoFundMe campaign to ensure the future of the venue.

Mark started the venue five years ago because of his love for music, and said it is a real community asset they would hate to lose.

More than 150 bands have been cancelled this year alone and the effects of Covid-19 and lockdown meant they are in a difficult position financially.

"Its not the sort of thing we normally do but we have not been able to open this whole time as we are a small, 100-capacity venue," Mark said.

"Live music is difficult at the moment so instead we have opened up an antiques shop as it is quite a quirky venue anyway with lots of nostalgic pieces around.

"In terms of Government support, it hasn't been a lot. We had rates relief and staff were furloughed.

"But there has been no continuing support at all. We applied for numerous grants but we didn't get any.

'Immediate danger'

"One was the Cultural Recovery Fund for grassroots venues, but you had to be in immediate danger of closing so thought we couldn't apply for it because we had enough to get us through – but we are still really struggling.

"We are a true grassroots venue, we don't put on cover bands we support real local bands."

Since launching the GoFundMe page where people can donate, Mark has managed to raise nearly £2,000 of his £4,000 target and said the support has been humbling.

They have also started temporarily selling antiques and curios out of the venue as a "shop" so they can keep open during the lockdown and keep cash coming in.

He said: "I didn't really want to do it but it's sort of a last resort. The only social media I do is Facebook and so I put it on there and the response has been incredible.

"We had the bassist from quite a big band, Dragonforce, donate money and other big names from all over the world even.

'It's amazing'

"We've had people from Brazil and New York comment and donate, it's amazing.

"The support is incredible. We are so passionate about grassroots its good to see other people supporting it as well.

"We are humbled by the amount of people who want to donate. When everything stops and we had to close, you think you are forgotten.

"Then when we did this, it's like people are saying we will support you."

For more on Percy's Café Bar, visit their website.

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