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Arts Council, Live Nation and AEG among those providing new support for the UK’s grassroots venues

By | Published on Monday 13 May 2019

Arts Council England

Arts Council England announced at The Great Escape on Friday that it has ring-fenced £1.5 million of the funding available via its National Lottery project grants scheme to support grassroots music venues. Meanwhile the Music Venue Trust announced a number of developments in its Pipeline Investment Fund initiative, including support from live music giants Live Nation and AEG.

MVT will work closely with the Arts Council to help grassroots venues apply for the newly ring-fenced funding. It is hoped that the funds could be used in particular to help such venues improve their tech set-ups and other facilities.

Announcing the new scheme, Arts Council boss Darren Henley said: “Grassroots music venues are essential both for our world-renowned music industry and communities across the country, and there needs to be a collective effort from both the public sector and music industry to support them. With this fund we’re ensuring that grassroots venues and promoters working in genres such as rock, pop and hip-hop have the support they need to create the best possible environment for artists and audiences”.

MVT announced plans to launch its own Pipeline Investment Fund last year, with the aim of raising money from elsewhere in the music industry to help support schemes to safe-guard the future of grassroots venues. The funding would help said grassroots businesses tackle the assortment of challenges that have pushed many venues out of business in recent years, which include rising rents and business rates, licensing issues caused by nearby property developments, and the tight profit margins of any small show gigging.

Updating everyone on those plans at the same TGE event, MVT said that it had been talking to various major music industry players since the start of the year. It went on: “Major actions agreed so far include use of apprenticeship levy funds to support apprentices in grassroots music venues, guest list donations at major events and venues to support improvements at venues, donation options on ticketing across a huge number of events, and direct donations from major companies to support the MVT Emergency Response service which rescues venues from noise complaints, licensing and planning issues”.

Among those supporting the scheme are Live Nation and its ticketing business Ticketmaster. The MD of the latter, Andrew Parsons, said on Friday: “All of today’s announcements are a huge step forward for grassroots venues – venues that are the beating heart of the music industry, without them British talent doesn’t have a place to grow into the next Lewis Capaldi or Mabel. As a long-time supporter of MVT, we’re excited to announce we’ll be giving fans the opportunity to add a donation to MVT through our website. With millions of digital users annually, this will also give unparalleled visibility to MVT and the significant work they do to keep grassroots venues alive and well for us all”.

Meanwhile, speaking for AEG, Emma Bownes added: “Despite the current boom in UK live music, grassroots music venues in the UK are finding it increasingly hard to survive. The announcements by Music Venue Trust and Arts Council England today, alongside funding initiatives from supporters across the industry, will be an important step in protecting small music venues and supporting the emerging talent that use these spaces to hone their craft”.

Welcoming all of these developments – while promising more announcements ahead – MVT’s Mark Davyd said: “This is obviously a huge day for grassroots music venues. The real support they need and have been crying out for has arrived. We want to ensure that venues across the UK are able to access the support they need to become real centres of excellence”.

He went on: “Britain’s artists and audiences deserve a world class, industry leading, grassroots touring circuit. Delivering that circuit is the responsibility of everyone in the music industry, cultural sector and government. That doesn’t stop with the live music industry and cultural partners making these fantastic announcements today. Labels, publishers, streaming services, we believe everyone has a stake in getting this right. When our grassroots music venues thrive, the whole industry benefits”.