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“We have to restart this conversation”: MVT calls for pipeline investment fund

Music Venue Trust has urged key grassroots venues stakeholders, as well as the UK music industry more widely, to unite behind a statement of intent to create a ‘pipeline investment fund’ to tackle the root causes leading to music venue closures.

The statement – reproduced below – is being sent to all major music industry stakeholders, and is “designed to move the conversation significantly forward on how best to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues for the benefit of grassroots artists”, according to the charity, which unveiled the pipeline fund proposal at yesterday’s sold-out Venues Day 2018 event in London.

“Music Venue Trust strongly believes that our own music industry understands that these venues are vital to the future of the health of the whole industry,” said Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd. “Last week in parliament we heard directly from artist representatives who know this, and today at Venues Day we’ve heard repeatedly from artists demanding action to support the venues that are vital to their development.

“We’ve heard a lot from key stakeholders, from government through Arts Council, live music industry partners and major record labels, about how these venues need support. We’ve heard a lot about what can’t be done, and what the obstacles are – let’s move past that. These discussions, some with positive results, haven’t resulted in the decisive direct action that is needed.

“We’ve heard a lot about what can’t be done, and what the obstacles are – let’s move past that”

“We have to restart this conversation from the basics, and move quickly to practical action everyone can support”.

It was widely reported last week that Davyd and others were calling for a ‘ticket tax’ to help venues in need, although he clarifies his comments in parliament were referring to France (which imposes a 3% tax on tickets) and that a levy on tickets isn’t the right solution for Britain.

Advocating for the pipeline investment fund, Davyd notes that in a music economy worth £4.4bn and growing, Britain’s small venues have been closed down for the sake of just £2,000 in legal fees, £10,000 of programming money or £20,000 of infrastructure investment. “Less than 0.1% of the UK music economy invested into the grassroots would permanently end these problems” he comments.

Beverley Whitrick, MVT’s strategic director, adds: “We can’t let this continue. Across Europe we have seen direct action taken, by government, the music industry and the cultural sector. We are reaching out to our own music industry, government and the cultural sector and asking them to join us and take the lead on this.

“We are asking you to sign up if you believe you should be part of the solution we need”

“Let’s stop talking about all the obstacles and start from the basics: We are asking you to sign up if you believe you should be part of the solution we need.”

Read the statement of intent in full below:

We, the undersigned, are committed to the concept of the creation of a pipeline investment fund within the UK music industry. We agree that such a mechanism is vital to the sustainability of our grassroots touring network, which we consider is essential to the future health of the UK music industry.

Funds generated by the pipeline investment fund should be used to support activity in the grassroots sector of the music industry to include (but not limited to):

1) Investment into modern, sustainable sound and lighting for grassroots music venues to permanently reduce venue costs and increase profitability.

2) Investment into the physical infrastructure of Grassroots Music Venues, to address issues of access, capacity, health and safety, and artist facilities. 

3) Acquisition of the freehold of grassroots music venues so that they can be placed into protected ownership and permanently leased back to local communities.

4) Support for new and emerging artist touring costs through a grant application process.

5) Creation of a training and apprenticeship programme for support roles within grassroots music venues.

6) Support for central legal, licensing and planning advice related to music venues, and for campaigns to ensure that future legislation recognises the economic, cultural and social value of those venues.

The fund would be administered by the established UK registered charity Music Venue Trust. The charity will establish advisory boards from within the UK music industry to guide and oversee its investments in each of the chosen areas. The charity will provide a full, annual, public report on all income and expenditure related to the pipeline investment fund.

We acknowledge that the creation of the pipeline investment fund requires consensus across the live music industry, from arenas, stadiums, concert halls, promoters, agents, managers and artists. In the event this consensus is reached, we are committed to delivering our agreement to this programme.

 


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Wolf Alice call on musicians to help save venues

Ellie Rowsell, frontwoman of Mercury Prize-winning band Wolf Alice, has called for more musicians to step up in the fight to protect the UK’s grassroots venues. The singer-songwriter spoke at the start of Venues Day 2018, the conference organised by Music Venue Trust.

The sold-out fifth edition of Venues Day takes place today, with over 500 venue professionals in attendance at Islington Academy in London. Following a welcome address by Liberal Democrat peer Tim Clement Jones, Rowsell urged more musicians to support the grassroots venues scene.

“I could go down to the [now-closed] Purple Turtle in Camden and borrow every piece of their equipment on their open-mic nights,” she said. “When I see these grassroots venues closing down or under threat, I worry that these authentic starts may no longer be possible.

“The music industry can’t afford to be more depersonalised – when your favourite venue turns into a Costa Coffee, it’s a loss of culture, opportunity, community and individualism.”

“When your favourite venue turns into a Costa Coffee, it’s a loss of culture, opportunity, community and individualism”

MVT says it hopes to see more musicians attending and lending their support to Venues Day 2019.

Rowsell continued: “Musicians can be one of the greatest helps of all. Last summer we toured a lot of the venues we first played in. It’s easy to forget that the venues are there cheering you on as well, and might invite you back to play when you’ve sold no tickets the first time around.”

“It’s important for musicians to recognise these acts of kindness – more should be giving back.”

Venues Day is supported by UK Music, Help Musicians, Jack Daniels, the O2 Arena and Academy Music Group. The programme includes a mix of panel discussions, presentations, working groups and speedmeeting sessions with booking agents and various specialists.

 


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Venues Day 2018 sells out

The 2018 edition of Venues Day, which takes place at Islington Assembly Hall in London next Wednesday (17 October), has sold out, organiser Music Venue Trust (MVT) has announced.

Venues Day 2018, which moves after four successful years at Ministry of Sound, will host more than 500 delegates representing over 200 venues, together with key grassroots music venue sector stakeholders, for a day of panels, workshops and presentations.

Agenda highlights include panels on music industry practice, health and wellbeing and company structures, while presentations include PRS/PPL on licensing, John Spellar MP on the progress of agent of change and the next steps for venues, and headline sponsor TicketWeb presenting facts and figures from the frontline.

Returning for 2018 is Sandbox, the meeting space for agents and venues, and the MVT team will be at hand to offer advise on licensing, planning, rates and legal issues.

“Venues Day is the key moment in the calendar when the music industry can hear directly from the venues under threat”

“The ongoing crisis in the grassroots music venues sector shows no signs of abating, with three new venues, Sticky Mike’s, Talking Heads and Marshall Rooms, forced to announce closures this week,” says MVT.

“Venues Day, now in its fifth year, is the key moment in the calendar when the music industry can hear directly from these venues under threat about what needs to change, and what steps need to be taken to protect, secure and improve the sector.”

The event kicks off with a panel presented by BBC DJ Steve Lamacq, ‘The Magnificent Seven: Anniversaries, Celebrations and Survival Stories’, celebrating venues that have fought on against the threat of closure.

For full details, visit the MVT website.

 


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