The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy


‘Enough is enough’ on venue closures – MVT

The UK grassroots sector is losing two venues a week on average, according to the Music Venue Trust's latest annual report

By James Hanley on 24 Jan 2024

Mark Davyd

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) says that “enough is enough” after revealing that 2023 was the worst year for UK venue closures since its launch a decade ago.

The organisation, which represents hundreds of grassroots music venues (GMVs), reveals that 125 GMVs (16%) closed last year – a rate of two per week – with 38% of venues reporting a loss in 2023, according to its newly published annual report.

The remaining 835 members of the Music Venue Alliance (MVA) staged over 187,000 events last year, with 1.7m individual artist performances attracting audience visits of over 23.5m. However, despite generating over £500m in revenues, GMVs made just £2.5m or 0.5% profit for the period.

“2023 was the worst year for venue closures since Music Venue Trust launched ten years ago,” says Beverley Whitrick, COO of Music Venue Trust. “We are still losing on average two venues a week and those that have survived are now consumed by threats to their continued existence that they have no chance of overcoming without immediate help. Without external support our entire sector would be bankrupt.

“We have been warning of these consequences for the last six years yet still the top end of the live music sector posts record profits while, with a few notable exceptions, turning a blind eye to those who discover, nurture and develop the artists that generate that revenue for them.”

“Enough is enough, this report speaks for itself and we will not allow this to continue”

The report, which can be accessed here, also details how the whole sector would have operated at a loss during the period without grants and donations totalling £3.1m from sources including MVT’s own Pipeline Investment Fund, as well as Arts Council England and other bodies.

In total, the amount that GMVs are subsidising live music rose from £79m in 2022 to £115m in 2023 – a 45% increase over the previous 12 months.

With high energy prices and rent increases averaging 37%, 164 member venues accessed the MVT Emergency Response Service which, for the first time since the organisation’s launch a decade ago, found that the primary cause of venue closure was a lack of financial viability.

“Enough is enough, this report speaks for itself and we will not allow this to continue,” adds MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “We must either find a way to act collectively to get these venues and the artists who rely on them the financial support they need to survive or we will seek legislation to compel it.”

The report notes a “distinct contrast” between the profit margins of venues based on their geographical locations, with those in bigger towns being more profitable. Venues in areas with populations under 200,000 reporting an average loss of -2.55%, compared to a 1.7% profit margin in more populated areas.

“We can no longer accept complacency from those in a position to help prevent the annihilation of our sector”

Additionally, venues with a total turnover of less than £500,000 were more likely to have a negative profit margin (averaging -0.5%) compared to those with turnovers exceeding £500,000 (averaging 3%),

Davyd repeats the MVT’s call for a compulsory £1 levy on tickets sold for UK live music events above 5,000 capacity.

“The idea that we, as an industry, cannot voluntarily create a levy to support our grassroots sector, unilaterally and without government intervention is absurd but we cannot escape the fact that we are simply not acting fast enough,” adds Davyd. “For that reason, Music Venue Trust is asking all of the main political parties for manifesto commitments ahead of the forthcoming General Election that state that there must be a contribution from the most successful parts of our industry into the grassroots research and development carried out on their behalf.

“It’s time to stop the excuses – we can no longer accept complacency from those in a position to help prevent the annihilation of our sector.”


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.