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MVT announces venue purchase, new hires

Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced a second acquisition by Music Venue Properties (MVP) under its Own Our Venues scheme.

The Ferret in Preston, a 200-capacity venue which has hosted artists such as Ed Sheeran, IDLES, Alt-J, Royal Blood and many more, will now be placed into permanent protected status.

Following the purchase, The Ferret’s operators have signed a cultural lease with MVP, an “innovative agreement” specifically created by MVP to guarantee that, as long as The Ferret operates as a space for grassroots live music for their local community, they can enjoy the use of the building.

“This one was a very complicated and challenging process, but that’s good because it tested what we’re doing,” MVT chief Mark Davyd tells IQ.

“We had to make our way through a lot of legal complications and work out different bits of ownership law. But the important thing is, The Ferret is a highly valued and treasured space in this area. It has grown organically out of a music community here and has a fantastic team running it. It came under threat and not only has that threat gone, but the venue will be here forever.”

“The Own Our Venues programme is escalating”

The purchase of The Ferret follows the October 2023 acquisition of The Snug in Atherton, Greater Manchester.

A further seven venues across the country have been identified for purchase in this initial phase and Davyd reveals to IQ that MVT/MVP currently have offers on three of those venues.

“We would expect to announce at least two of those venues in no more than a month,” he adds. “The Own Our Venues programme is escalating and we’re still keen to get more people invested because it’s really transforming the future of these venues.”

Own Our Venues was originally launched as a Community Share Offer in 2022. To date, almost £2.6m has been raised from over 1,200 individual investors. Funding was matched with a £500k investment from Arts Council England, and the figure includes loans of £150k from Preston City Council and £500k from Arts & Culture Impact Fund.

According to MVT, 93% of GMVs are tenants with the typical operator only having 18 months left on their tenancy.

The issue of ownership underpins almost every other challenge that GMVs have faced during the last twenty years, says MVT, including gentrification, noise complaints, under-investment, poor economic models, and an inability to plan for the future.

In other MVT news, the organisation has appointed three key hires, with Sophie Brownlee joining as external affairs manager and Kimberley Goddard taking on the role of fundraising manager in a part-time capacity.

In addition, Sophie Asquith has been promoted to be the new venue support team manager, overseeing the work of the UK’s venue coordinators and heading up MVT’s Emergency Response Service.


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Preston to host Radio 2 in the Park

BBC Radio 2’s flagship annual live music event, Radio 2 in the Park, will take place this year in Preston, Lancashire, on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 September, presenter Gaby Roslin revealed on today’s Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

The station, along with many of its presenters, will be decamping to the city’s Moor Park for two days, bringing a host of stars to northern England for a programme of live performances.

The full artist line-up will be revealed in early June, with tickets going on sale shortly afterwards. Details will be available on the Radio 2 in the Park website. Last year’s Radio 2 in the Park was held in Leicester and featured headliners Tears for Fears and Kylie Minogue.

“I’m delighted that this year’s Radio 2 in the Park will take place in Preston,” comments Helen Thomas, head of Radio 2. “Following last year’s epic extravaganza in Leicester, we can’t wait to head north with our fantastic family of Radio 2 presenters, as well as some of the most loved music artists on the planet, to party with the good people of Lancashire.”

“This is a brilliant coup for Preston and will be a huge boost for the city”

As the UK’s most popular radio station, BBC Radio 2 is tuned into by more than 13.2 million listeners each week.

Welcoming the broadcaster’s choice, Adrian Phillips, chief executive at Preston City Council says, “As this year’s host city, we’re really excited to be staging two jam-packed days, full of incredible live performances from some of the music world’s biggest stars.

“This is a brilliant coup for Preston and will be a huge boost for the city. We can’t wait to hear who the line-up is for this year and to welcome thousands of Radio 2 listeners to proud Preston!”

It’s not the first time the BBC has chosen Preston as a location for its iconic outdoor events, having previously visited the city for sister station BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2007.


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Live Nation acquires UK promoter Cuffe & Taylor

In its second deal with an independent British promoter in the space of three days, Live Nation has announced the acquisition of a controlling stake in Preston-based Cuffe & Taylor.

Founded in 2009 by Daniel Cuffe and Peter Taylor, Cuffe & Taylor’s portfolio include Greenwich Music Time, in south-east London, and the local Lytham Festival. It also has exclusive booking rights to the Scarborough Open Air Theatre (6,500-cap.).

The company will continue to be led by Cuffe and Taylor as joint directors.

They comment: “After an incredible seven years operating as an independent promoter in the UK, we are now looking forward to our new life as part of the Live Nation family.

“Through this deal with Cuffe & Taylor we are able to offer fans in the UK more choices than ever before”

“It’s very much business as usual at Cuffe & Taylor as we continue to grow and develop our core brands of Lytham Festival, Greenwich Music Time and Scarborough Open Air Theatre, while also developing our touring operation, taking established artists into new and exciting regional venues.”

Live Nation president and CEO Michael Rapino adds: “Our mission at Live Nation has never been clearer: We want to connect fans with the artists they love, and through this deal with Cuffe & Taylor we are able to offer fans in the UK more choices than ever before.”

Upcoming tours for Cuffe & Taylor include Olly Murs, Cliff Richard, Bryan Adams and The Beach Boys.

On Friday Live Nation announced it would be launching a joint venture with V Festival promoter Metropolis Music, led by Bob Angus.


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