Hundreds of music venues across England and Wales are celebrating as Music Venue Trust secured a 50% rate reduction.
The Government announced details of a 50% reduction in Business Rates for small and medium sized Grassroots Music Venues. The announcement releases over £1.7m back into the grassroots live music sector, which has endured a prolonged crisis illustrated by the closure of 35% of Grassroots Music Venues in the last decade.
The extension of the relief will see 230 Grassroots Music Venues across England and Wales benefit, with the average saving per venue equating to a reduction in overheads of £7,500 per annum. It follows other wins for the sector including a new ring-fenced fund announced by Arts Council England in May 2019, which released £1.5m of subsidy into the sector, and changes to planning guidance and the legal framework across the UK which have brought additional protections for music venues from developers and noise complaints through Agent of Change.
“This is a much needed and long overdue boost for grassroots music venues”, says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick. “Music Venue Trust has been working hard with 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”.
High business rates are frequently cited as one reason for why it has become increasingly hard to operate grassroots music venues in the UK. Particular concerns were raised in 2017 after a big overhaul of business rates saw some venues left with a massive increase in their liabilities, disproportionate to their size. Later that year, UK Music noted: “One small venue, the Lexington in North London, has seen a staggering rise of 118% in its rateable value this year. Meanwhile, Arsenal’s 60,000 capacity Emirates Stadium nearby enjoyed a 7% cut in its rateable value”.
Mark Davyd, CEO and Founder, Music Venue Trust, said: “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 Music Venue sector to artists and audiences. There’s still a lot to be done on this specific issue, and we look forward to working with the governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland to make sure that GMVs across the UK have a level playing field when it comes to Business Rates and Public Subsidies.
“This issue can be tackled, and it needs a broad coalition of key stakeholders to do that. Government, the Cultural Sector and the live music industry have all acted in the last 12 months to address the crisis in this sector. It’s now time for recording, streaming and publishing interests to play their part. Billions of pounds in revenue are being generated in the music industry from the music that is tested, developed, finds its audience and emerges from these vital spaces. PRS for Music, PPL, Universal, Warners, Sony, Spotify, Apple and Google now need to come to the table and tell us what they are going to do to make sure that continues to happen.”