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Music Venue Trust launches ‘Manifesto for Grassroots Music’ ahead of UK election

"We have a chance to save UK grassroots music venues from the crisis they currently face and we should not let it slip.”

By Nick Reilly

Music Venue Trust
(Picture: Pexels)

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has delivered their own “Manifesto for Grassroots Music” ahead of the upcoming UK General Election, urging politicians from all parties to “seize the moment” and support live music.

The latest move from the organisation comes after they warned that the independent venue sector faces “disaster” if closures are not curtailed, while also launching a new initiative that encourages arena-level acts to give back to the grassroots.

In addition to that, The Ferret in Preston recently became the second grassroots music venue to secure its future as part of the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Own Our Venues’ scheme.

The venue, which has previously hosted gigs from the likes of Royal BloodEd Sheeran and IDLES, has secured its future after being acquired by Music Venue Properties (MVP). It comes after the scheme oversaw the successful purchase of The Snug in Atherton, Greater Manchester, last year.

Now, a new report called ‘A Manifesto for Grassroots Music’, aims to get politicians involved in helping politicians to secure the beleaguered sector’s future.

In the manifesto, the MVT outlines the necessary steps that need to be taken to secure the future of grassroots venues. These include the continued push for a £1 investment contribution from every ticket sold by an arena or stadium, alongside an abolition of VAT on tickets for grassroots music venues.

In addition, the MVT also calls for a fan-led review to identify and examine the major challenges to the live music ecosystem.

Ahead of the election on July 4, the MVT describes the manifesto as “a once in a generation opportunity to save the UK’s grassroots music venues”.

“The Manifesto is being delivered to every prospective MP in the country with the request that they come out in support of it as part of their campaign to be elected,” said Sophie Brownlee, External Affairs Manager at MVT. “Music communities across the country will also be asking the candidates where they stand on the future of live music in our towns and cities. The time to act is now.”

Mark Davyd, the MVT CEO, added: “In 2023, of the 366 small music venues Ed Sheeran played while learning his trade, at least 150 are now closed. Another 72 grassroots music venues significantly reduced or ended their live music offer.

“38 per cent of GMVs in the UK made a loss in the last 12 months. The sector operated on a 0.5 per cent profit margin overall while running live music events at a £115 million loss.  All of this can be changed if the next government delivers the five simple steps we have set out in this report.  We therefore call on all political representatives, from all parties, to seize the moment and drive forward this change. We have a chance to save UK grassroots music venues from the crisis they currently face and we should not let it slip.”