'Tears of joy' as Chesterfield music business given lifeline amid pandemic

The team at a family-owned Chesterfield music business admit they are breathing a sigh of relief after being awarded Government cash to keep operating.

Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th October 2020, 3:22 pm

Real Time Live has been given £62,500 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help arts venues face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Joint owner Niki Stephenson, who runs the business with her husband Mark, says there were ‘tears of joy’ among staff, freelancers and musicians after hearing about the news this week.

The Real Time brand started in Chesterfield in 1994, developing from a small shop on Newbold Road to its current home on Marsden Street which houses Real Time’s Music Shop, School of Music and Real Time Live, the live music venue.

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A performance at Real Time Live before the pandemic struck. Photo: Real Time Live, via Facebook.

It is described as a ‘hub for all things music’, and attracts the best local, national and international acts to Chesterfield.

However, the venue has been able to open only twice since the country went into lockdown in March.

"It has been a terrible time with plenty of tears but there were tears of joy when we found out about the grant,” Niki said.

Niki Stephenson, owner of Real Time Live in Chesterfield.

"It gives us breathing space and means we are financially viable and can actually make plans.

"We will have to continue to be very frugal and not waste a penny until the spring but it does give us a little hope.

"We are a family business and if you include our musicians there are hundreds of people relying on us.

Real Time Live, Chesterfield.

"So many worthy venues have missed out so we are incredibly fortunate.

"Keeping music live is our mission, from buying an instrument from Real Time Music to learning to play that instrument at the Real Time School Of Music, to performing at Real Time Live.”

The venue is one of 1,385 cultural and creative organisations across the country receiving a share of the £257million which makes up the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants programme being administered by Arts Council England.

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden said: “This funding is a vital boost for the theatres, music venues, museums and cultural organisations that form the soul of our nation.

"It will protect these special places, save jobs and help the culture sector’s recovery.”

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