By Stephen Ramsay
Carlton Recording Studios, an iconic thirty-year-old music studio and Gorbals institution which has seen acts like Franz Ferdinand, Biffy Clyro, and Erasure pass through its doors, is fighting for survival in the midst of another prolonged lockdown.
With music studios in Glasgow suffering a significant blow to footfall since the pandemic response began, but still falling through the cracks of council funding and tax relief schemes, Carlton Studios has turned instead to the local community for help, and to anyone in Glasgow with a passion for music.
The Save Carlton Studios fundraiser, which has been running since the 9th of January, has currently raised just under half of its £30,000 target, with four weeks to go.
“The kindness of folk and the willingness to help in any way they can is heart-warming, and very humbling to be sure,” Barny Taplin, one of the studio’s three original co-founders, said.
The fundraiser has received vocal and heartfelt support from musicians in bands like the Fratelli’s and the Alabama 3, as well as hundreds of enthusiastic comments from backers, alongside running weekly online concerts to raise awareness.
A regular force for good in the area, Carlton Studios has worked with the Princes Trust and the Social Work Department to provide work placements, free music lessons, and free recording sessions for school children and young people, as well as hosting numerous fundraisers.
“Carlton Studios has been involved with the local community over the years, and have supported Theatre Nemo, MOJO (the Miscarriage of Justice Organisation), Princes Trust, and have provided work experience opportunities for local schoolchildren and students. We also ran a music group for mental health well-being, and if you are into your music, we do our best to nurture and support,” Barny said.
Sitting near Glasgow Sheriff Court on the Clyde side, Carlton Studios has four rehearsal studios, a drum studio for lessons, a recording suite, and a downstairs cafe. It aims to provide an affordable venue for musicians, but also to promote the wider arts, hosting comedy nights, poetry slams, plays, and exhibitions of photography and paintings.
“I think places like Carlton Studios are necessary, as they give young musicians a place to hone their craft and grow, both musically and as people. Music has a massive influence on us all, I think,” Barny said.
“Most of the friends I have are all people I have met through the love of music. Music builds that sense of community that is so important.”
While the fundraiser has been a relative success so far, the studio suffered an additional setback just one week after launch, when the building was broken into, costing over £1,000 in damages and £200 in stolen cash.
“We have been broken into a few times over the 30 years we have been here, and we will survive, I am sure. These are desperate times for many, many folk,” Barny said.
Music studios all over Glasgow have suffered since the beginning of the pandemic response. Lofi Studios on George Square, which had boasted Scotland’s “largest recording and rehearsal complex”, closed its doors permanently in May last year. With musicians prohibited from meeting bandmates under lockdown rules, music studios’ usual custom has collapsed.
Pedro, sound engineer at the Audio Lounge studio in Maryhill, said: “The virus crisis has certainly hit us hard. Business is about 90% down.”
“Rent is our biggest problem with landlords giving no leeway. With Lofi and Glasgow Music Studios already going under, it looks increasingly difficult for studios until the government does some good.”
Glasgow City Council recently announced additional funds worth £4.47 million to be allocated to small businesses on a discretionary basis. The new Business Hardship Fund goes live on the 5th of February and aims to assist businesses which hadn’t received support from the Strategic Framework Business Fund in the past.
Whether the help will be enough, and how much longer businesses in Glasgow will have to toil under the pressures of lockdown, remains to be seen.
Save Carlton Studios fundraiser page can be found here: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/save-carlton-studios