Public raise £30k in just six hours to help keep Bedford Esquires afloat

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Venue overwhelmed by support

Music venue Bedford Esquires has raised more than £30,000 in six hours to help secure its future amid uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Yesterday, the venue launched a crowdfunder appeal with the aim of raising £20,000 by the end of May to help pay for ongoing costs and the impact of closure during the outbreak.

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However, more than 650 people helped smash the target and, so far, have donated £31,913.

Tom Grennan, when he previously played EsquiresTom Grennan, when he previously played Esquires
Tom Grennan, when he previously played Esquires | other

Gareth Barber, who runs the venue, said: “We really can’t thank each and every one of you enough for helping us smash our target in just six hours. We are shocked and emotional.

“The support and comments you have given us have been overwhelming and we are so thankful to every single one of you.

“We will be going through everything in the next day or so and getting back to as many people as we can.”

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Money raised above the crowdfunder target will be used to support staff and fund more events and local artists in the Bedford area.

Before the Covid-19 outbreak, Esquires had lined up a summer of gigs to celebrate its 30th birthday.

During his tenure at Esquires, Mr Barber has overseen extensive investment and modernisation to the venue, PA and lighting to firmly establish it on the music circuit.

As well as supporting homegrown talent such as Tom Grennan and Don Broco, in recent years the likes of Lizzo, Idles, Royal Blood and Biffy Clyro have all headlined the venue.

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Mr Barber added: “We have been truly humbled and overwhelmed by the messages of support we have received since the shutdown.

“Along with our group of dedicated promoters, we have always tried to put on as many special events in and around the town as we can.

“At Esquires, the aim was always to try and make us a venue the town could be proud of.”

Supporters can still pledge donations and there are a number of different rewards available from inclusion on a pledge wall, t-shirts and admission to future gigs.

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