MPs urged to ‘seize the moment’ and support grassroots music venues ahead of general election

The Music Venue Trust has published a manifesto for grassroots music in the UK, as it calls on all politicians to “seize the moment” ahead of the forthcoming general election.

In a bid to help save the sector from its ongoing crisis, the MVT – the charity that represents hundreds of grassroots music venues (GMVs) around Britain – laid out the steps required to stem the rate of venue closures and bring about stability.

The five key areas highlighted in the report include the need for a £1 levy, or investment contribution, from every arena and stadium ticket sold to be contributed back to grassroots venues, artists and promoters.

There is also a call for a fan-led review to address the biggest hurdles for the UK’s live music ecosystem, along with a reduction on the VAT applied to gig tickets.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said: “In 2023, of the 366 small music venues Ed Sheeran played while learning his trade, at least 150 are now closed. Another 72 grassroots music venues significantly reduced or ended their live music offer.

“Thirty-eight per cent of GMVs in the UK made a loss in the last 12 months. The sector operated on a 0.5% profit margin overall while running live music events at a £115 million loss. All of this can be changed if the next government delivers the five simple steps we have set out in this report.

“We therefore call on all political representatives, from all parties, to seize the moment and drive forward this change. We have a chance to save UK grassroots music venues from the crisis they currently face and we should not let it slip.”

The MVT wants politicians from across all parties to commit to supporting the UK’s struggling grassroots music sector (Getty Images)
The MVT wants politicians from across all parties to commit to supporting the UK’s struggling grassroots music sector (Getty Images)

Sophie Brownlee, External Affairs Manager at Music Venue Trust, added: “The Manifesto is being delivered to every prospective MP in the country with the request that they come out in support of it as part of their campaign to be elected.

“Music communities across the country will also be asking the candidates where they stand on the future of live music in our towns and cities. The time to act is now.”

The manifesto comes after a recent Culture, Media and Sport select committee made recommendations for the wider music industry to invest in the future of grassroots venues through contributions of £1 per ticket sold for events over a 5,000 capacity

“Grassroots live music venues, the local, limited capacity venues integral to the pipeline of creative and professional talent and key fixtures of our communities, are now facing a crisis of soaring costs and closures,” the committee said.

“Artists, and the people who rely on them for business, are facing a cost-of-touring crisis and finding opportunities squeezed. Promoters are less able to put on shows or make them financially viable. Festivals, electronic music venues and even academies and arenas are not insulated from the impacts.”

In April, The Independent launched its Main Stage initiative, which spotlights different grassroots venues around the UK to provide them with additional support.