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MVT’s Own Our Venues scheme makes first purchase

Music Venue Trust (MVT) chief Mark Davyd has hailed a “huge moment for grassroots music venues” after the UK organisation announced the first acquisition under its Own Our Venues scheme.

The Snug (cap. 100) in Atherton, Greater Manchester, has become the first GMV to be bought by Music Venue Properties (MVP), the independent Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) created by the MVT (unlike a charity, CCBS can raise money via community shares).

MVP has secured the freehold of the building occupied by The Snug and has placed it into permanent protected status. It has also committed to removing The Snug from the pressures of the commercial lease market by offering a rent reduction and a contribution towards building repairs and insurance.

“I can’t say this often enough – there are solutions to this,” Davyd tells IQ. “A total of 127 [grassroots venues] have closed or stopped putting on live music in the last 12 months. This one will never stop putting on live music.”

Own Our Venues was launched as a crowdfunded project in June 2022 as the first step in a long-term campaign to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership. The project was made possible by more than 1,200 individual investors including £500,000 investment from both Arts Council England and Arts & Culture Finance.

“This is not complicated stuff,” adds Davyd. “With a pound on a ticket at [an arena show], you can buy one every five shows. The audiences are telling us they want us to do this. The communities around the country are telling us they want to do this. We’ve gone off and done it.”

“We’ve got another two that are already in the final stages of being completed and we’re hoping to announce those in the next quarter”

The venue’s current operators have signed a ‘cultural lease’, which is an innovative agreement specifically created by MVP to guarantee that, as long as The Snug operates as a space for grassroots live music for their local community, they can enjoy the use of the building.

The official launch event and unveiling of a commemorative plaque was held today (4 October) at The Snug, attended by many of those who helped bring the initiative to fruition.

“Lots of people in music industry told me this wouldn’t work. Well, it has worked,” adds Davyd. “So I’m super-proud that our team has made it happen. I’m super-proud of the community in Atherton. I’m super-proud of the music community across the country that’s invested in this. It’s a huge moment for us and it’s a huge move for grassroots music venues. But we’ve got to do a lot more of it.”

In addition to The Snug, MVP has also identified another eight venues – five in England, one in Scotland and two in Wales – for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept.

“We’ve got another two that are already in the final stages of being completed and we’re hoping to announce those in the next quarter, and then we’ve got six more that we’re looking at in this round,” says Davyd. “But I want to make it clear that the fund is reopened. Right now, the people who’ve already invested can put more money in and if you haven’t invested yet, we’ve bought a music venue. – come with us and you can own them with us.”

PHOTO (L-R): Claire Mera-Nelson, John Whittingdale MP, Jennifer King, Mark Davyd Rachael Flaszczak, Jamie Lawson


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