UK grassroots music venues get a lifeline: £2.1m raised by charity to secure their future
On Thursday at midnight, Music Venue Trust’s #OwnOurVenues campaign concluded its ambitious fundraising initiative. The campaign aimed to create a National Trust for grassroots music venues across the UK, with the aim of raising £2.5m. Although the charity fell short of the target, it still managed to raise a commendable £2.1m.
The campaign was launched in response to the alarming statistic that 35% of grassroots music venues have closed in the past two decades. The MVT represents almost 1,000 UK venues, with 93% of them being tenants who have only an average of 18 months left on their tenancies. This reality has made these venues vulnerable to the decisions of landlords who prioritize profit over supporting the music industry. Unfair rent increases, conversion to flats, and short lease terms are just some of the factors that threaten the viability of grassroots music venues.
MVT’s radical solution is to put the ownership of music venues into the hands of people who love live music. This approach has never been tried before and could have long-term benefits for artists, audiences, and local communities. This audacious idea has garnered the support of various high-profile musicians and industry leaders, including Ed Sheeran, Frank Turner, Ben Lovett, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, and Amazon Music.
The project has also secured a grant of £500,000 from Arts Council England, which is included in the total crowdfunded amount. Jason Iley, the chair and chief executive of Sony Music UK & Ireland, stated that these venues are the starting point for artists who go on to have long and successful careers, and local music venues need more stability to thrive. Tony Harlow, the chief executive of Warner Music UK, agreed that British grassroots music venues are an essential part of the country’s musical history and future.
Grassroots music venues have always operated on razor-thin margins, with Covid only exacerbating their struggles. The sector has amassed more than £90m of new debt, with over 67% of it being related to lease obligations. Chris Sherrington, a regional coordinator for the MVT, believes that the UK has the potential to have the best grassroots circuit in the world, supporting new talent and investing in artists. It’s GMVs that make the UK a world leader in music and culture, and their impact on the country’s cultural life is enormous.
The MVT has already identified nine venues, located outside London and in areas of high deprivation, whose landlords are willing to sell their freehold to the charity. The nine venues include The Ferret in Preston, The Snug in Atherton, Le Pub in Newport, The Glad Cafe in Glasgow, and The Hairy Dog in Derby. Hannah White, a musician, songwriter, and venue owner, acknowledged that these venues are the heart of their communities, working alongside local education providers and supporting local and emerging talent while also being part of the national touring circuit.
The MVT’s ambitions go beyond these nine venues, with patron Steve Lamacq declaring that the charity will save as many grassroots music venues as possible. Lamacq recognizes the crucial role these venues have played in the development of British music over the last four decades, nurturing local talent and providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and performance skills.
The #OwnOurVenues campaign is a glimmer of hope for the UK’s music industry, which has been struggling for years. With this new initiative, there is a possibility of creating a more stable and supportive environment for the country’s grassroots music venues. It is a radical idea, but it has the
Summary Of This Article
Music Venue Trust’s fundraising campaign called #OwnOurVenues, which aims to create a National Trust for grassroots music venues across the UK. The campaign hopes to raise £2.5m to buy freehold venues and save them from closure due to increasing rent prices and property development.
The article highlights the importance of these venues in the UK music industry, as they provide a platform for emerging artists and contribute significantly to the cultural and community heritage of the country. The campaign has received support from various artists, music industry professionals, and public investors, as well as a £500,000 grant from Arts Council England.
The Music Venue Trust hopes that the success of this campaign will set a precedent for ownership of music venues by people who love live music and provide long-term benefits to artists, audiences, and local communities.