The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has called for immediate government action to secure the future of grassroots venues in the face of the mounting energy crisis in the UK.
The call for action from MVT CEO Mark Davyd comes amid fears that a huge hike in energy prices across the UK could see venues unable to cope with mounting bills and face a fresh threat to their future, having already weathered the storm of enforced closure during Covid.
Recent estimates suggest that operators in the hospitality sector face bill increases of at least 30 percent, which means that independent venues could struggle to survive the financial hike.
Speaking to Rolling Stone UK, Davyd said a energy price cap for businesses was needed immediately.
“The immediate thing to do is that the government must bring in a price cap for businesses. There is no price cap for businesses and what we’re seeing is that energy providers, because household prices are capped, are trying to make a profit out of the market that isn’t capped,” he said.
“It’s as simple as that. I’ve seen some of our members face an increase in energy costs of up to 646 percent. There’s a law against doing that to households and there needs to be one against it for small and medium enterprises. It wouldn’t solve the whole problem but it is essential and needs to be done straight away.”
As NME reported last week, recent findings from the MVT suggest that a venue currently playing an average of around £1,245 per month will see a lowest possible increase of 156 per cent to £3,187 per month. An average increase of 316 per cent will see costs rising to £5,179 per month, while a highest possible increase of 646 per cent will jump to £9,288 per month.
Davyd added: “They’ve been in crisis for 25 years and it was amazing they survived Covid. It’s going to be even more amazing if they survive the fall-out of it.”
Asked about what can be done to secure the long term future of venues, Davyd spoke about the MVT’s recent initiative aimed at buying up properties that host grassroots gigs.
In May, the Trust announced the formation of the Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS), which aims to purchase the freeholds of grassroots venues. The investment project will allow music fans to buy in at a return of 3% APR, with the pooled cash going towards buying the venues outright in a bid to avoid being beholden to third party landlords.
He said: “The long term strategy is the ownership of venues. Nearly every problem we deal with eventually relates back to the ownership of the building. Even if it’s not a landlord that is developing, when development happens the land value explodes to such an extent that the landlord will realise they need much more rent than can be secured by running a music venue.”
On a more positive note, Davyd explained that dire financial times could result in an increase in gig-going. With long-term purchases such as houses proving unattainable, he explained that consumers could instead turn to immediate enjoyment by going to gigs instead.
“The truth is that recessions often provoke people to go out and enjoy themselves. Long term stuff is unattainable so you might as well go out and enjoy yourself. It’s like the roaring twenties,” he said.
My personal experience of the atmosphere at gigs since lockdown is that they’ve been an absolute riot. People are letting it all out because they don’t want to be locked in their room again. They’re seeing their favourite bands and just having a brilliant time.”