LIVE entertainment has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak. But a popular Bury venue is finding innovative ways to keep the arts alive in these challenging times. BRAD MARSHALL reports.

FOR 10 weeks since the announcement of coronavirus lockdown the doors of The Met have been closed. But the iconic venue has been far from quiet.

With auditoriums empty and gigs indefinitely put on hold, like hundreds venues around the country, The Met is locked in a battle to survive without many of its lifeblood income streams.

However, to help see it through these trying times, The Met has been continuing to find ways to bring music and entertainment to people in their own homes.

In recent weeks the venue has become a regional hub for live music streaming and online club nights.

Bury has even been dubbed the “lockdown clubbing capital of The North”, as The Met’s events draw in millions of viewers.

The Met has also joined a UK-wide grassroots campaign to help save the industry.

%image('11443314', type="article-full", alt="United We Stream production staff at work during live Hacienda event")

Adam Comstive, The Met’s marketing manager, said “Live music and the ability to enjoy new and favourite artists in a small venue like The Met is a huge part of many people’s lives.

“The response and encouragement we’ve seen from gig-goers is brilliant. It makes us determined to be ready to welcome people back to the building and get back to doing what we do best when the time is right.”

Lockdown has seen The Met lose its main source of revenue from tickets sales.

And although the coronavirus pandemic has decimated many areas of the economy, there are fears that live events may be impacted for longer than any other sector.

In spite of the difficulties, The Met’s team say they have been encouraged by the public support they have received so far. But they admit “there are certainly some challenging months ahead”.

Thankfully the venue has been seeing donations, memberships and gift voucher sales grow from customers who are looking forward to seeing live music return to Bury.

However, The Met says "more will be needed" to help the venue recover from the lockdown period.

%image('11443350', type="article-full", alt="The Met in Market Street, Bury")

In the meantime, while the situation is “ever-changing”, The Met’s management says it is following a “diligent and cautious” course.

Victoria Robinson,The Met’s CEO, said: “People who had tickets for shows which we have had to cancel or rearrange have been patient, understanding, and often generous.

"By buying gift vouchers or tickets for future events, becoming members or even making a donation through The Met or the Save Our Venues campaign, anyone can help us emerge from the shutdown ready to play a big part in Bury’s recovery.”

Mr Comstive added: “Since lockdown we have unfortunately had to cancel or refund many thousands of pounds worth of tickets that were vital income to both the venue and the artists who play here.

"While the landscape for live music keeps shifting we’ll have to plug some of that hole in our revenue before audiences return, and public donations could play a big role in that.”

%image('11443306', type="article-full", alt="DJ Paulette filmed at The Met, Bury, as part of The Hacienda House Party")

While audiences may no longer be able to attend The Met, the venue has become the lockdown home for the United We Stream project.

This has seen millions around the country tune in for live streams of performances by bands, DJ’s, singers and other artists ­— a feat the venue says it could hardly have predicted a few months ago.

One of its hugely popular events, the Hacienda House Party ­— which featured a show-stopping Hacienda Classical live performance with Manchester Camerata ­— was viewed by more than 1.5 million people when it was streamed live from the venue over the early May Bank Holiday.

This platform has further helped to raise thousands of pounds to support businesses and workers in the region’s ‘night-time economy’ whose livelihoods have been put on hold by the pandemic.

“Being part of United We Stream has given us a chance to think about the future of how we share and experience music,” Mr Comstive said.

“We’re looking forward to embracing new opportunities and reaching more people than ever.”

The Met has also featured in the #SaveOurVenues campaign ­— a nationwide call for music fans to support and prevent the permanent closure of the small venues they love.

The appeal is asking for vital public donations to The Met and other venues, which have been described as “the backbone of the British music industry”, and are often an economic and social lifeline for towns like Bury.

For more information and to support the campaign visit