There are fears one of Watford’s best loved music venues will be gone by Christmas if it does not get funding it needs to survive.

The Horns in Watford is an iconic venue in the town and has been the gateway for some of the most talented musicians.

But like many businesses at the moment, particularly in the hospitality industry, The Horns is in severe financial trouble and although manager Jane Giles has been able to reopen, Covid-19 has cost thousands.

The Horns is now relying on cash from the Arts Council to keep it going – and Ms Giles has admitted if the application for funding fails, the music venue and pub she throws so much passion and energy into running will have to go, most likely by the end of 2020.

Watford Observer:

A fundraising campaign over the summer has enabled The Horns to pay some of its bills and spruce up the place but the entertainment it is able to provide is a shadow of its former self due to restrictions on singing and social distancing.

Read more: The Horns launches campaign to save music venue from closing

Watford Observer:

Watford Observer:

Ms Giles has acoustic bands in most nights but that’s about as far as the venue can stretch in a musical sense to keep in line with coronavirus guidelines.

She said: “We are only cultural music venue in Watford and live music has gone if our venue shuts.

“Sadly, we only have room for acoustic duo’s & trio acts because of social distancing purposes.

“The music is also kept to a talking level reducing the risk of aerosol transmission, enabling us to keep music live going and putting on some amazing acoustics.

“Times are hard with our trade reduced like it is, not being able to do the events we normally would.

“We really need people to come and support the venue. We need your support more now than ever before if we are to survive this terrible pandemic and come out the other side rocking with the fantastic tributes, covers, original bands, open mics, and acoustic acts.”

Watford Observer:

The Horns has reopened with Covid secure restrictions in place

Watford Observer:

The Horns will find out in October if they are successful with its funding application.

Ms Giles said: “The Arts funding application has been submitted – it was really hard. We hope and pray the arts council choose us. We won’t survive past Christmas without funding.”

Watford Observer:

Throwback to times when Jan Giles, left, and Jane, right, could put on their acclaimed music events

The venue was in financial trouble before Covid-19 and is struggling with debt. Not being able to put on its usual events and limited capacity means making ends meet is even more of a struggle now.

Read more: The Horns is struggling financially and in need of an investor

Ms Giles’ quest to find an investor has been unsuccessful although they did receive interest to turn The Horns into an alternative use.

The pub and music venue has received a freeze on tax for a year but has received no other income.

Ms Giles said: “We’ve worked day and night to get pub ready and had help from customers. The fundraising money has helped us to reopen."

Watford Observer:

However Ms Giles says she was “disappointed” with Watford Borough Council, accusing them of showing no “discretion” when they asked for financial support.

She said: “We haven’t received any grants from our local council as our rateable value was too high for the small business grant.

“The council were given money from the Government as a discretionary grant fund but decided to cap it to businesses at under £51,000 rateable value making it unable for us to apply.

“We do appreciate that there are restrictions applied to ensure that small, independent businesses received the discretionary grant but of course very disappointed that Watford Borough Council chose not to use its discretion to provide us a lifeline as an independent family run business offering Watford something that nowhere else in the town does.”

Watford Observer:

The names of all the people who have donated to the crowdfunder

Watford mayor Peter Taylor responded saying: “We know how difficult this crisis has been for many of these businesses and we wanted to ensure that as many businesses as possible benefited from lifeline funding as soon as was possible.

“We distributed £15 million to local businesses in just a few months. The government stipulated that funding could only go to businesses with a rateable value of less than £51,000, which I am aware excluded a number of businesses in our town including the Horns.

“This is not good enough and the government must provide additional funding for councils to distribute to those businesses in our town who may have missed out. These are challenging times financially, including for local councils, but we must do all we can to help.”

Watford Observer:

Luke Hinton, from the Music Venue Trust, said: "The Horns is Watford’s only grassroots music venue, and as evidenced by their recent Crowdfunding campaign, a much-loved part of the Watford community.

"The Horns are a member of the Music Venue Alliance, as part of Music Venue Trust, and we are helping Jane and Jan to explore all opportunities open to them for support to give them the best chance possible of survival.

"We want The Horns to be there to give the next Mohair, The Spitfires or The Staves the opportunity to start out on their music journey."