Music venue owners express gratitude at £25,000 grant and pledge to ‘find a way’ through temporary closure

Both Unit Nine and MK11 recently received financial support from Milton Keynes Council.

Sunday, 28th February 2021, 2:27 pm
Updated Sunday, 28th February 2021, 2:28 pm
Unit Nine in Milton Keynes recently received a grant for £25,000. Photo by bTp.

The owners of a music venue which was recently awarded £25,000 by Milton Keynes Council have expressed their gratitude to the authority, but warned supporters they are not out of the woods yet.

Earlier this month, Unit Nine in Wolverton and fellow music venue MK11 in Kiln Farm were both given grants by the council after lobbying the authority for support.

Neither venue received money from the Government when it handed out £1.57bn in grants to venues across the country as part of its Culture Recovery Grants last year.

The 500 capacity Unit Nine is run by friends Dom Rampello and Jamie Stimpson.

Mr Rampello said: “We were delighted to be awarded the grant as for the past 10 months we have been struggling to keep the business afloat.

“We are extremely grateful as it will help us sleep better at night and hopefully, help to save the venue.

“The money helps cover some of the basic costs. Even though we are not open, we still have bills to pay. Rent, general contracted bills, maintenance, wages, the list goes on.”

Mr Stimpson added: “This figure doesn’t save us but it’s a grant that wasn’t planned for by the council, so they have put work in to make this happen for us and MK11, which we fully appreciate and respect.

“We hope this pandemic only highlights the importance of the arts in Milton Keynes, meaning we’ll be in the forefront of people’s minds once this pandemic is over.”

The grant followed both venues working together, ‘rallying the troops’, and ‘making a noise’, to let people and the authorities in the town know neither had received support from the Arts Council.

Mr Stimpson said that when they were forced to close their doors because of Government restrictions, like other venues, their normal income vanished overnight.

“The pressure was on from day one of the pandemic and it’s been an extremely tough rollercoaster ride,” he explains.

“We are confident after recent announcements we can now make it through, providing the Government’s plan is fulfilled, but we are by no means out of the woods.

“We are determined people, we will find a way.”

The Government has indicated that venues such as Unit Nine and MK11 may be able to re-open at the end of June – as long as the coronavirus remains under control.

Mr Rampello said while it would come as a huge relief from a business point of view, it would also be a relief from a personal one too.

He said: “We all need to feel that freedom again, we need to socialise and get our lives back.

“As a venue we are having to plan for the eventual reopening based on the Government’s announcement but we are not setting our expectations too high.

“We have been let down time and time again with last minute announcements and we have learnt not to take everything we are told as gospel.

“Fingers crossed the 21st June is the one but we have a long way to go.”

Turning to the wider Milton Keynes community which has supported them during lockdown, the pair both said: “Thank you to every single person that has supported us throughout this pandemic.

“We have had so many kind gestures of support, in ways people would never even imagine.

“Not only a thank you for supporting us, but for supporting the whole scene.

“Music is about supporting each other, from grassroots right through to the big stage.

“It’s imperative we all stick together so that we can re-build and look to a hopefully, brighter future.”