Two live music initiatives for small venues have kicked off to help new talent and strengthen a live music circuit, in both the Spanish capital Madrid and the country as a whole.

The moves come amid the general financial crisis, an anti-live venue posture by some local authorities, plus the closure in the past month of several key Madrid venues following the widely publicised death of an 18-year-old youth following his violent ejection from a well-known city center discotheque.

Three bouncers have been in detention since and could face murder charges. The city council says the well-known discotheque, like many city venues, did not have correct licences to play music or operate as 'after-hour' venues.

Starting today Dec. 2 until Dec. 21, Madrid will hold 19 concerts in 19 different venues of up to 300-capacity. It is for an event called “Alternativas En Concierto,” where emerging artists will support better-known stars, several with gold discs under their belts. In general, the well-known stars began their careers playing in the venues featured in Alternativas.

The initiative has been organised by Madrid's 45-venue La Noche En Vivo, the AiE artists and interpreters association, the Agedi collecting society, and financed in part by the Madrid regional government.

At the same time, Spain's national association of concert halls, Acces, and its French counterpart, La Fédurok, will be meeting at a festival in Rennes in Brittany, France, between Dec. 4-6 to develop an accord they signed late October at the 20th Mercat de la Musica Viva in Vic, near Barcelona.

The accord is aimed at sharing experiences to strengthen live music and venues, and bringing awareness of their cultural and business value to local and regional administrations.

La Noche En Vivo VP Angel Viejo, who has run Madrid's Galileo Galilei club for the past 26 years, recalls that in 1985 the city had some 112 small venues. But he says the 45 existing members stage some 10,000 concerts per year.

"This is the breeding ground for future artists, and we have organized ‘Alternativas’ so that young people become more involved in the venues, and local authorities start supporting live music," says Viejo. "Sometimes it seems as if the city council prefers to close the venues rather than have them open".

The regional Madrid government, however, which controls the province of Madrid, is supporting “Alternativas” with financial backing.

Acces met with La Fédurok in Vic in late October to agree to work closely in the future to encourage small-venue live music either side of their common border.

Acces communication director Armando Ruah says Acces is interested in learning from the La Fédurok's experience, as "France is one of the pioneer countries in defence of its popular music and the recognition of its own culture.”

The Vic meeting included representatives of both the Spanish and French culture ministries, Marta Cureses of the Spanish ministry and André Caillot of the French ministry. Also in attendance were regional live music associations from Catalonia (Asacc), Galicia (Clubtura), Andalucia (Cosa), Basque Country (Kultura Live), and Castilla y León (Old Castile).

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