The Music Venue Trust (MVT) said it is moving to ensure that operators of new arenas in the UK financially support grassroots venues.

Having published MVT’s annual report today, 31 January, which states that grassroots music venues contribute £500m to the UK economy despite a tiny profit margin for many operators, MVT CEO Mark Davyd said arena operators must help finance the talent pipeline created by smaller venues.

He outlined plans to ensure operators of all new arenas opening in the UK invest a percentage of every ticket they sell into the grassroots music eco-system. He said MVT has issued a request to the City of Manchester, The Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, Manchester City Council and all Manchester MPs to push for the Oak View Group, the venue management company behind the upcoming 23,500-capacity Co-op Live arena (pictured) in Manchester, commit to the initiative.

Davyd said, “We cannot go on building more and more arenas with no plan of how to fill the stages they create in five, 10, or 20-years’ time and without these new facilities playing their part in helping protect the grassroots eco-system.”

The result of a survey of its 960 UK grassroots music venues members, MVT’s annual report found that they employ more than 30,000 people. Collectively, the venues staged 177,000 events in 2022, with 565,000 individual performances attracting audience visits of almost 22 million. This, however, is a decline of 16.7% from 2019, and MVT found that the number of shows staged per week in individual venues was down from 4.2 in 2019 to 3.5 in 2022, with only 1.97 of those identified as ticketed live music shows.

The report also identified that in 2022, the average grassroots music venue capacity was 308, of which 40% was utilised per event, which translates to an average of 124 audience members per event.  This is 11% down from 2019 when the average capacity was 51%.

It said the income from those events was more than £500m but venues reported an average profit margin of just 0.2%.