Music Venue Trust announces ‘manifesto for grassroots music’

Music Venue Trust announces ‘manifesto for grassroots music’

The Music Venue Trust (MVT), the charity which represents hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs), has called upon politicians from all parties to “seize the moment” ahead of the forthcoming UK General Election on July 4th, and to help save the sector from the deepening crisis it finds itself in.

MVT has published a report entitled ‘A Manifesto for Grassroots Music’, which sets out the steps that need to be taken in order to stem the closures of GMVs, currently running at more than one per week, and to bring stability to the sector.

Calling this “a once in a generation opportunity to save the UK’s grassroots music venues”, the report emphasises the need to implement the recent Culture Media & Sport Select Committee recommendations for the wider live music industry to invest in the future of grassroots music via a contribution of £1 from every arena and stadium ticket sold for events over a 5000 capacity.

There are also calls for the abolition of VAT on GMV tickets and for a review of the business rates paid by venues in the sector. The report also highlights the need for a full, fan-led review and the need for changes to existing planning laws.

The five key areas highlighted in the report are:

·       £1 grassroots investment contribution from every arena and stadium ticket sold to support grassroots music venues, artists and promoters

·       A fan-led review to fully examine the long-term challenges to the live music ecosystem

·       The agent of change principle in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) to be put on a statutory footing at the earliest opportunity

·       A reduction in VAT on cultural ticketing in GMVs to 0% and reduce VAT on cultural ticketing in the live music industry to the European average (5–7%)

·       The creation of a specific business rates premises definition for GMVs and the removal of properties satisfying that definition from the requirement to pay business rates

Sophie Brownlee, External Affairs Manager at Music Venue Trust, said, “The Manifesto is being delivered to every prospective MP in the country with the request that they come out in support of it as part of their campaign to be elected. Music communities across the country will also be asking the candidates where they stand on the future of live music in our towns and cities. The time to act is now.”

In its recent report recommending the implementation of a £1 levy on arena and stadium concert tickets, the CMS select committee said, “…grassroots live music venues, the local, limited capacity venues integral to the pipeline of creative and professional talent and key fixtures of our communities, are now facing a crisis of soaring costs and closures. Artists, and the people who rely on them for business, are facing a cost-of-touring crisis and finding opportunities squeezed. Promoters are less able to put on shows or make them financially viable. Festivals, electronic music venues and even academies and arenas are not insulated from the impacts.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said, “In 2023, of the 366 small music venues Ed Sheeran played while learning his trade, at least 150 are now closed. Another 72 grassroots music venues significantly reduced or ended their live music offer. 38% of GMVs in the UK made a loss in the last 12 months. The sector operated on a 0.5% profit margin overall while running live music events at a £115 million loss.  All of this can be changed if the next government delivers the five simple steps we have set out in this report.  We therefore call on all political representatives, from all parties, to seize the moment and drive forward this change. We have a chance to save UK grassroots music venues from the crisis they currently face and we should not let it slip.”

The full report can be found HERE

  • Image: Erotic Secrets of Pompeii on stage at legendary Southampton grass roots venue, The Joiners. Picture by Spring Wise.


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