TWO popular Stourbridge music venues are among struggling clubs and arts attractions to have been awarded emergency cash from the Government to help them weather the coronavirus storm.

Claptrap the Venue and The River Rooms are among more than 1,300 venues across the country set to benefit from a share of £257 million in vital funding from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, it was announced today (Monday October 12).

£79,802 is to go to Claptrap in Stourbridge High Street and The River Rooms in Mill Race Lane is to receive £57,900 in funding.

The cash has been awarded as part of efforts to help arts and entertainment venues with local and national significance to face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and help to give them a sustainable future.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This money will get to work right across the country to save these places and protect jobs and hundreds of millions pounds is on the way for cultural organisations of all sizes that still need our help.”

Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of Arts Council England said: “This is a difficult time for us all, but this first round of funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will help sustain hundreds of cultural spaces and organisations that are loved and admired by local communities and international audiences. Further funding will be announced later in the month and we are working hard to support creative organisations and individuals during these challenging times.”

Mark Ellis, of The River Rooms, said the money would help to pay the bills up until March next year.

He told the News today: "We shut in March and unlike the pubs that were allowed to open with social distancing - we couldn't open. There was just no way. You can't do that with live music venue; it's impossible.

"Since we've been shut we've had to carry on paying the landlord, paying full rent since March, and all the utilities and we haven't had any wages."

He said it had been a "really difficult" process to put in a bid for the funding help and he thought it would just be "ballet places" that would be given a bail out but he was delighted to be on the list as The River Rooms (which started out life as The Rock Cafe 2000 back in 1999) is the "only long-standing music venue that's been in one place for 20 years". He said: "Not even The Robin has done that."

The venture has played host to an array of famous names over the years including 80s icon Paul Young and The Wonder Stuff's Miles Hunt to name but a few and has become a popular party night venue on Fridays and Saturdays in recent years but Mark said: "We can't open until there's no social distancing - unless there's a vaccine. We just don't know when we can reopen."

The funds announced today, however, will give the club a lifeline until 2021.

Mark said: "I'm glad Claptrap have got some as well."

Stourbridge MP Suzanne Webb said: “Venues like the River Rooms and Claptrap are hugely popular local attractions, bringing in people to the town and forming part of our vibrant nightlife scene in Stourbridge.

"They also make a huge contribution to our local economy, and I do not underestimate just how challenging recent months have been.

“I am thrilled that arts and culture will receive a boost thanks to Government funding, helping organisations to plan for their eventual reopening while protecting jobs in the meantime.

“This Conservative Government promised to protect lives and livelihoods throughout the pandemic, and this latest support will help our vital cultural institutions to build back better after coronavirus.

“I hope this funding will go a long way in supporting them to get running once again and keeping us entertained.”