The Music Venue Trust’s push to help enable grassroots venue operators to take control of the freeholds of premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership, has won the backing of Ed Sheeran.

MVT said the initiative, launched in June, is built on the Community Share model that has been successful in saving local pubs, post offices and sports grounds. It aims to raise £3.5 million in initial investments to acquire nine venues. Further venue freeholds will then be identified and secured as and when they become available. On completion of purchase the venues will be offered an immediate rent reduction and help to contribute to building repairs and insurance, while also guaranteeing long term security and market resistant rents. MVT plans to purchase the first nine music venues by the end of December 2022.

Individuals and companies have pledged support via an investment platform overseen by Ethex and a Crowdfunder campaign, the deadline for the initial phase is 31 December.

Ed Sheeran said, “Own Our Venues is an initiative I’m really passionate about getting behind. Small, independent venues are so, so important to the music community, and I’ve played some of my favourite gigs of my career in these rooms. We’ve got to do all we can to protect these beautiful venues that we’ve all come to love for years to come.”

MVT CEO Mark Davyd said, “We are blown away by the support already for Own Our Venues. This is campaign that is really resonating with music fans who understand exactly how important it is to keep access to live music in our communities, our towns and cities right across the UK. With the Own Our Venues project gathering steam, we are incredibly pleased to get Ed’s support for this initiative – he knows this sector incredibly well and understands how important it is.”