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Insure4Music maps UK’s grassroots venues

Specialist music insurance provider Insure4Music has created an interactive map of its pick of the UK’s best small venues.

The map, designed as a reference tool for both artists and concertgoers, is split into 12 regional pages, with each containing key statistics for each region’s venues, such as capacity, contact details and whether they provide a backline.

It also features pieces of of ‘did you know?’ trivia about each venue, as well as notable acts who’ve played there and insights from venue spokespeople.

John Spellar MP – who tabled a bill, later adopted by the government, that introduces the agent-of-change principle to protect small venues from property developers – comments: “This map highlights why the UK’s vibrant live music scene is celebrated the world over. Quite simply, small music venues make our country a more attractive destination.

“This map highlights why the UK’s vibrant live music scene is celebrated the world over”

“The most famous musicians of all time have started out at some of these iconic venues and it’s vital that people continue to support them. Otherwise, the future of live music is in danger.

“The support for agent of change has been fantastic and the bill’s success presents a fantastic opportunity for the next generation of musical talent to emerge. Local councils must use the power they’ve now been given to back British music.”

View the Small Music Venues Index by clicking below:

Insure4Music Small Music Venues Index

If there’s a venue missing you think should be included, tweet @Insure4Music with your suggestions.

 


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Agent of change comes into force in UK

As the new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) comes into force in England, UK Music has urged local authorities to formally adopt the agent-of-change principle to safeguard music venues.

The umbrella body’s chief executive, Michael Dugher, has written to the chair of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter of Spalding, asking English local authorities to adopt agent of change, which was included in the NPPF in January. Local authorities are legally bound to comply with the NPPF – which came into force today (24 July) – meaning all planning committees must consider the principle when making decisions on applications and in framing their planning policy.

The British government committed to introducing agent of change, which makes housing developers building new homes near UK venues responsible for addressing noise issues, in the NPPF following a campaign by Music Venue Trust and UK Music in support of a bill tabled by former minister John Spellar MP.

“The introduction of agent of change in the NPPF marks a pivotal moment in the fight to protect under-threat music venues,” says Dugher. “The government is to be congratulated for taking this decisive step.

“This has been a long-fought battle and it is vital that local authorities back it to save live music”

“Too often music venues have been the victims of developers. This new law will help ensure music venues can continue to grow audiences and develop talent, contributing significantly to our £1 billion live music industry.”

“This has been a long-fought battle and it is vital that local authorities back it to save live music. There is now no excuse for local authorities for not stepping in to protect grassroots music venues.”

Adds Spellar: “I am delighted that the Government has listened to concerns expressed by MPs and the music industry about the fate of music venues across the country, and has fulfilled its commitment to introduce the agent-of-change principle in the new National Planning Policy Framework by summer recess.

“This is great news for musicians and music lovers whose voice has been loud and has now been heard. Local authorities must now make use of these vital tools to support our world leading music creativity throughout our towns, cities and communities.”

 


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“A seismic victory”: UK govt backs of agent of change

The British government has announced plans to adopt the agent-of-change principle into planning law, in an announcement welcomed as a “seismic victory” for music venues by UK Music chief exec Michael Dugher.

Housing secretary Sajid Javid announced today the National Planning Policy Framework, with which local authorities are legally bound to comply, will be amended to include “detailed reference” to agent of change, making housing developers building new homes near UK venues responsible for addressing noise issues.

The news follows the introduction of a ‘ten-minute bill’ by John Spellar MP, backed by industry associations including UK Music and Music Venue Trust, in parliament last week. Dugher said at the time he hoped the government would “listen to the strength of feeling from grassroots campaigners, communities from up and down the country, artists, songwriters and MPs from all parties” and back Spellar’s bill.

And listen it has – Javid (pictured) explains: “Music venues play a vital role in our communities, bringing people together and contributing to the local economy and supporting the country’s grassroots music culture.

“I have always thought it unfair that the burden is on long-standing music venues to solve noise issues when property developers choose to build nearby. That’s why I consulted on this in February last year as part of the housing white paper.

“I have always thought it unfair that the burden is on long-standing music venues to solve noise issues”

“I am pleased to finally have an opportunity to right this wrong and also give more peace of mind to new residents moving into local properties.”

“This is a seismic victory for all those who fought so hard to safeguard the future of music venues across the UK, from grassroots community activists to Britain’s global music stars who have spent years calling for agent of change and recently supported the Spellar bill,” says Dugher.

“It’s great that ministers have listened and are prepared to work with UK Music and others from the industry, including the Music Venue Trust, to make sure grassroots venues get the support and protections they need,” he adds.

Spellar says: “I am delighted that the Government have listened to grassroots venues and campaigners that have supported the safeguards contained in my Planning (Agent of Change) Bill. This announcement is fantastic news.

“While we need to iron out the final details when considering the draft framework, there is a real hope that these new provisions could be law by the summer.”

 


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Music legends turn out for agent of change

British artists, politicians and senior music industry figures headed to Westminster this morning in support of John Spellar MP’s bill to enshrine the agent-of-change principle in UK law.

The proposed legislation, announced at Venues Day last October, would require property developers to take into account pre-existing businesses, like music venues, before proceeding with a project, and is backed as a crucial weapon in the fight against venue closures by industry groups such as Music Venue Trust, UK Music and the Musicians’ Union.

The Planning (Agent of Change) Bill has the backing of at least 75 MPs and peers, including former culture minister Ed Vaizey, as well as artists including Sir Paul McCartney, Ray Davies, Glen Matlock, Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason, Billy Bragg, Craig David, Feargal Sharkey and Brian Eno.

“So many of the bottom rungs of the ladder have been taken away”

Speaking to IQ before the bill’s first reading in parliament today, Mason said he is backing the Spellar bill to protect venues as a lifeline for “young musicians in the 21st century”. “It’s a much tougher environment now than it ever was,” he explained. “So many of the bottom rungs of the ladder have been taken away … it’s important for young people to feel like they could have a career in music if they wanted it.”

J. Willgoose, Esq., one third of Public Service Broadcasting, said it’s important artists who have graduated on from grassroots venues don’t “pull up the ladder behind us”. “We were the beneficiaries of being one of the last generations of musicians who had a fertile, up-and-coming pub and club scene, which we benefited from enormously,” he said.

“If you look at some of the venues we played in early days, and how many of them have now closed, especially in London, it’s a frighteningly high percentage.”

“Moving to a city then complaining about the noise from venues is like moving to the country and complaining about the smell of cow muck”

Bragg told IQ that while agent of change won’t tackle the symptoms of the problems facing music venues – chiefly low interest rates making home ownership the only way to make a solid return on investment, leading to a boom in development – it is “going to put the onus on properly developments to recognise that they’re building in an area which is a cultural hub, and that’s really, really important”. (He joked that moving to a city then complaining about the noise from venues is like “moving to the country and complaining about the smell of cow muck”.)

UK Music chief executive praised the “great turnout” for the pre-bill reading photocall, opposite the houses of parliament, and said he hopes ministers will “listen to the strength of feeling from grassroots campaigners, communities from up and down the country, artists, songwriters and MPs from all parties. It’s time now to back the act and make that change that we need.”

The bill was well received by a majority of MPs – or, in parliamentary jargon, the ayes had it – and will proceed to its second reading on 19 January. Spellar’s presentation of the bill can be viewed on the Parliamentlive.tv website.

 


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Cross-party support grows for agent of change in UK

Parliamentary support is mounting for a new law in the UK to protect music venues, with two influential MPs – former culture minister Ed Vaizey and the chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on music, David Warburton – now having endorsed the proposal.

Industry umbrella group UK Music is spearheading the campaign to have the agent-of-change principle, which would force property developers to take into account the impact of any new scheme on preexisting businesses, such as music venues, before going ahead with their plans, enshrined in law. That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats taking responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a existing venue.

The proposals are being brought forward at Westminster by Labour MP and former government minister John Spellar, who announced his support for the proposed legislation at Venues Day last month.

As of last May, agent of change is already included in planning guidance in England, but is not compulsory. The proposed new law would place a burden on the developer to ensure solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses across the entire United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“It’s now time to make a change and stand up for common sense”

He will table his proposed new law next month, with a debate in the House of Commons to follow early next year. Culture secretary Karen Bradley has indicated the government would be willing to support Spellar’s bill, telling him in a recent parliamentary session that her office is already “working with the Department for Communities and Local Government to look at the proposition that has been put forward.”

Announcing his support, Vaizey comments: “In order for our creative industries to continue to flourish, it is essential that we do all we can to protect our country’s brilliant grassroots venues. These venues are the lifeblood of the UK music scene, a source of immense pride for communities and a springboard for many artists’ success. Adopting agent of change into existing planning laws is therefore an important step in safeguarding the future of these vital platforms.”

Warburton, a former composer, adds: “Putting the agent-of-change principle firmly into law is simple common sense. Any new development, whether it’s a residential project near a music venue or a music venue opening next to properties, should be responsible for the costs of protecting against the noise – because they’re the ones making the change to the environment.

“It’s crazy that you can build right next door to a music venue and then demand they pay for the soundproofing you need. A huge number of popular venues are facing closure because the law just isn’t working fairly – so it’s now time to make a change and stand up for common sense.”

 


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Venues Day: John Spellar in push for UK-wide agent of change

Michael Dugher, the chief executive of UK Music, yesterday unveiled fresh plans to protect music venues threatened with closure.

Speaking at Music Venue Trust’s fourth Venues Day event at Ministry of Sound in London, Dugher said the the umbrella organisation had partnered with Labour MP John Spellar to push in parliament a radical plan to enshrine the agent-of-change principle – which would require property developers to take into account pre-existing businesses, like music venues, before proceeding with a project – in UK law.

Since last May, agent of change is already included in planning guidance in England, but is not compulsory. The proposed new law would would place a burden on the developer to make sure solutions are in place to mitigate the potential impact of their scheme on existing businesses across the entire United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Spellar will outline the measures in a backbench ‘ten-minute rule’ bill later this year and hopes to win government support for the legislation.

“I hope everyone will join UK Music in our battle to get agent of change on to the statue book”

“Enshrining agent of change in law would be a critical weapon to help music venues across the UK in their fight for survival,” says Dugher. “The threat from developers, along with soaring business rates and licensing regulations, could prove a lethal cocktail for many venues unless we work together to help them survive and thrive.

“In particular, these are challenging times for small and grassroots venues which play a crucial role in nurturing new talent and helping artists get their big break. I hope everyone will join UK Music in our battle to get agent of change on to the statue book so we can ensure the continued vibrancy and diversity of our fantastic music venues.”

Spellar adds: “I’m delighted to be working with UK Music to win support for the agent-of-change principle.

More than 30 million people attended live music events last year at venues across the UK. The live music industry makes a major contribution to both our economy, employment and our culture. It must be safeguarded.”

 


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