A report from Paul Mc from Music Venues Day 2018
As many of you will know, the future of the UK’s “grass roots” music venues is under severe threat. We have supported and worked with the Music Venues Trust for many years in their campaign to keep these venues open. I went to their annual Music Venues Day, which saw hundreds of small venues attend.
Here are just a few matters I wanted to flag up to everyone in the UK MI Industry:
- Be in no doubt that the very existence of many of our venues is in a perilous state
- MVT Patron, Lord Tim Clement Jones (in the picture) has long championed and directly supported the sector including the Live Music Bill and the Agent of Change Bills, but spoke of his concern about the erosion of the venues and their massive contribution to the culture and economy of the UK in addition to the obvious role they play in supporting the next generation of musicians and bands
- It was interesting to hear how, in a town with no musical instrument shop or record shop, the venue is often the key physical gateway for young people into the world of music
- And also the role many of these key venues (eg Joiners) play in being seen as an “endorsement” for an up-and-coming new act when they play there
- Ellie from Wolf Alice (pictured) spoke of the importance of the grass roots venues to a band like hers
- The 100 Club has seen a 47% rise in Business Rates and now has to pay £1,500 A WEEK!
- Jeff Horton explained that, if it were not for some corporate sponsorship of the 100 Club, it might have had to close
- He also spoke of his anger at having to go to Westminster Council (after all the years of the Club paying all taxes) to ask for Hardship Relief!
- It is estimated that a fifth of London music venues are at risk of closure due to Business Rates
- Many of these venues are having to be really creative in raising the monies to keep going
- As an example, Joiners in Southampton could not fund the £2500 needed for a roof repair and resorted to Crowd-funding…. They raised the monies in two and half hours!
- Many of the great venues on various panels (100 Club, Fiery Bird, Cheese and Grain, Joiners, Oh Yeah Centre and the Wedgewood Rooms) spoke at length about how much work they do in the music community to support young people (not just the gigs)
- One venue spoke of a great idea to ask any band who play at their venue in the early days to make a pledge to pay the venue back £10k if they ever end up playing Wembley! (love it!)
- The scale of musical gear upgrades needed was clear, but many venues are simply having to spend all monies on repair of the building and all the business costs
- Example, the Wedgewood Rooms in Portsmouth have an old analogue mixing desk and would love a digital one… Anyone able to help? (Geoff Priestly is your man)
- The low salaries drawn by the people working in these establishments and the “labour of love” that working in them was, became evident many times during the day
- The detrimental commercial impact of Festival Season on small venues is huge, many of them have to write off 3 months of the year
- Interesting to note that 70% of recent UK Festival Headliner acts have played at the 100 Club at some point (eg Muse in the 1990’s, which lost the venue money!)
- The Government support in Europe for small venues often means that a touring band will play one small UK venue and then go off to more lucrative gigs in Europe
- Great to hear the MVT is launching a special “Fightback” lager available to all venues that ploughs money back into the Trust to be able to support more and more venues!
Our industry involvement
- Could you adopt your local Music Venue in a “twinned with” style partnership?
- MVT and MIA are keen to test this out, let me know if interested (any type of MI Business), firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nick Wright from MIA Business Rates negotiator, Altus Group, is offering his help to Music Venues
- The event saw the launch of a special Pipeline Investment Fund to try and secure the future of venues
- The associated Statement of Intent document is attached below and we would ask everyone who takes the matter seriously to read it (the MIA has already signed it)