Grassroots music venues hail announcement to cut business rates

Over the last few years, the futures of small-medium sized venues have become increasingly uncertain with rising rents, building developments and business rates strangling the live music scene. See small venues struggle to survive amidst rising costs and one small music venue closes every month for more.

However, 2020 may be the year of change thanks to a new reduction in business rates. 230 small-medium sized venues across England and Wales will welcome a 50% decrease in business rates, which is set to save each venue an average of £7,500 a year.

The government’s announcement comes after a long period of campaigning from the likes of UK Music Musicians’ Union, Music Venues Alliance and the Music Venue Trust (MVT) and is predicted to release £1.7million back into the grassroots live music sector.

“This is a much needed and long overdue boost for grassroots music venues,” commented Beverley Whitrick, strategic director at Music Venue Trust. “MVT has been working hard with the government on this issue for the last four years and it is a huge breakthrough for us and the members of the Music Venues Alliance. We’d like to thank our partners at UK Music and Musicians’ Union for their support and help in getting this over the line.”

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Beverley Whitrick

CEO and founder, Mark Davyd, said that he will now be working with the Scottish and Northern Irish governments to ensure small music venues across the UK have a “level playing field.”

He continued: “This latest announcement from government is another foundation stone in the support Music Venue Trust is building so that we can deliver a vibrant, sustainable, world-class grassroots venue sector to artists and audiences.”

He also called on PRS for Music, PPL, Universal, Warners, Sony, Spotify, Apple and Google to work towards “play their part” to address the issues within the sector.

Mark Davyd

Richard Buck, the CEO of event producers and venue operators, TEG MJR, told Event Industry News: “This is a strong step in the right direction. Grassroot venues are the foundations of our industry and this is a positive step.

“We very much welcome the change in business rates. It’s a much-needed, positive step which will benefit the grassroot venues that are the foundations of our industry.”

Why are grassroots music venues important?

Small-medium sized venues offer stages and support to fresh and nascent artists. Without such places, artists can never expect to grow and build their work/fanbases.

Over the last decade, 35% of grassroots music venues across England and Wales have closed. In 2018, the UK’s first live music census revealed that a third of British venues beyond London were struggling amid high business rates and noise restrictions.

This news comes during Independent Venue Week – a seven-day celebration of music venues throughout the UK and the people who work, run, manage or own them.