The director of an independent music venue in Barrow has voiced his concerns over the future of the grassroots music industry.

Graham Newby, director of Barrow Underground Music Society, has called for greater access to funding from the government for smaller venues.

The call comes after over 400 music venues across the country are at immediate risk of permanently closing.

Mr Newby said: "I think it was hard for the smaller independent music venues before Covid.

"2020 was set to be a big year for us, but due to our annual break in January and February we’ve not opened at all this year.

"Guidelines say we’re allowed to hold distanced events now, but at the moment we’re putting safety before anything else and waiting until we can balance public health with the logistics of hosting live music."

Mr Newby said the charity, Music Venues Trust (MVT), has been lobbying the government for emergency funding as well as a Cultural Recovery fund going into 2021, but not all venues meet the criteria needed to apply.

He said: "The MVT have been proactive in providing backup plans such as setting up individual Save Our Venues crowdfunding pages and organising the Passport; Back To Our Roots scheme, which aims to support any venues falling through the gaps with headline bands playing small venues.

"The problem is venues, artists, tech crews and others within the industry are all constituted differently.

"It makes any funding support hard to direct and at the moment, the simplest solution would be to get venues opening safely with support. That way everyone across the industry is active and working, albeit in a reduced capacity but active nonetheless.

"Places like BUMS have remained open due to the resilience and the continued support from the local community. I’m positive the live music scene this country is renowned for has a bright and exciting future.

"With social distancing in place it’s not financially viable for many small venues to open.

"Generic funding is great but the DCMS (Department for Culture, Media and Sport) funding packages which are distributed by Arts Council England need to reach the more diverse venues.

"The one size fits all approach will leave many venues closed with no support and in turn no future."

A spokesman for the DCMS said: "This Government is here for culture and we are supporting our exceptional music industry.

"This includes £3.36 million for 135 venues across England at risk of collapse from the coronavirus pandemic.

"Music venues and organisations are also able to apply for grants and loans from our unprecedented £1.57 billion cultural recovery fund."