In a plea to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, the Music Venue Trust – the charity organization that lobbies to protect UK grassroots music venues, communities, and upcoming artists – is sounding the alarm bells for the survival of grassroots music venues in the UK. The shocking statistics speak for themselves: 125 venues have been forced to close their doors over the past year, representing a staggering 15.7% of all such spaces in the country. According to Louder, the consequences are dire, with 4,000 jobs lost, 14,250 events canceled, 193,230 performance opportunities vanishing into thin air, and a colossal £9 million in musician income obliterated, along with £59 million in lost revenue.
This crisis has left a devastating impact on local communities, shaking the very foundations of culture and creativity. These venues were not just places for music; they were the heart and soul of countless communities, nurturing talent, and fostering a sense of pride and aspiration. The significance of grassroots music venues goes far beyond the cultural realm. The creative industries, in which the UK has always been a global frontrunner, depend on these venues as hubs of research and development for emerging talent.
In January 2020, then-Chancellor Rishi Sunak himself recognized the importance of grassroots music venues by introducing a special 50% Business Rates relief. The acknowledgment of the unjust taxation system faced by these venues led to this vital relief, which was further increased to 100% during the darkest days of the pandemic before being reduced to 75% in the post-pandemic economic landscape.
The 75% Rates Relief isn't just a luxury; it's a lifeline that keeps these venues afloat. Removing it would result in an additional burden of £15 million for the already struggling sector. In 2022, the entire industry managed only a minuscule profit margin of 0.2%, a mere £1 million against a total turnover of £500 million.
The stark reality is that without this relief, more grassroots music venues will be forced to close their doors, robbing even more communities of access to live music. The consequences ripple outward, affecting artists, jobs, economic activity, and the nurturing of future world-beating talent.
You can read the entire open letter sent by the Music Venue Trust to the UK Chancellor here.