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Music Venue Trust purchases The Snug as first example of #OwnOurVenues scheme

The Snug called the purchase 'a light of hope' for the preservation of grassroots venues.

By Nick Reilly

L-R: Claire Mera-Nelson, John Whittingdale MP, Jennifer King, Mark Davyd Rachael Flaszczak, Jamie Lawson outside The Snug

The Music Venue Trust has announced the purchase of its first venue under the #ownourvenues scheme.

The Snug in Atherton, Greater Manchester, has become the first grassroots property to be purchased by Music Venue Properties (MVP), a charitable community benefit society (CCBS) which was created by Music Venue Trust under plans to transform venue ownership in the UK.

Launched last year, the #ownourvenues scheme strives 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 that sometimes threaten the future of venues.

As the MVT explains, a CCCBS can raise money through community shares. In the instance of The Snug, some 1200 individual investors chipped in – including a £500,000 investment from both Arts Council England and Arts & Culture Finance to secure the venue.

Today’s launch event saw the unveiling of a commemorative plaque at the venue and was attended by Mark Davyd, CEO and Founder of Music Venue Trust, The Snug’s owner/operator Rachael Flaszczak, John Whittingdale, Minister for Creative Industries, Claire Mera-Nelson Director of Music for Arts Council England, Rhoda Dakar & Chris Prosser of the Music Venue Properties Board.

Local musicians were also in attendancee, including Ivor Novello winner Jamie Lawson and 16 year old Jennifer King who is a shareholder in MVP.

Crowd at a live show, via Pexels
(Photo: Pexels)

“The Snug being purchased by Music Venue Properties means everything to me, my team and our community, as it allows us to continue to provide this very important space to up & coming artists for many years to come. We now feel secure and confident to plan ahead knowing the venue is in safe hands with people that have a shared vision of the future of new music. To be the first of many serves as a light of hope that the preservation of grassroots music venues can be done when people pull together to make things happen, and The Snug can keep showcasing the cultural life within our community” said Rachael Flaszczak, Managing Director of The Snug. 

Creative Industries Minister Sir John Whittingdale said:  “The UK’s incredible grassroots music venues are the lifeblood of our world-leading music sector, launching new talent and supporting thousands of jobs in local communities. Thanks to initiatives like Music Venue Trust’s Own Our Venues campaign and an extra £5 million in government support for grassroots music, we’re securing the future of these much-loved venues and maximising the potential of our creative industries.” 

Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said, “The #ownourvenues project is a cutting-edge initiative and this first acquisition of The Snug is the culmination of a long-held ambition of Music Venue Trust.  It shows a way forward not just for music, but for community ownership right across the UK. We hope we have created a template that can be replicated wherever a community highly values a cultural asset.”

It comes after the MVT warned that the UK risks losing ten percent of independent venues by the end of 2023.

In addition to The Snug, MVP has also identified another eight venues for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept. Five venues are in England, one in Scotland and two are in Wales. 

Last year also saw Ed Sheeran throw his support behind the project.