Imagine a better future for the UK's Grassroots Music Venues
Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) are where we come together to sing, dance, celebrate, cry and feel a part of something bigger. These rooms create unique moments of magic, transforming everyday acts into nights where ‘you just had to be there’. They are spaces that turn the ordinary into the extraordinary and capture those moments that become folklore.
Despite this, 35% of these venues have closed in the last 20 years – a testament to the failure to truly appreciate their value. To make matters worse, 2023 is on course to be the worst year for venue closures, as operators grapple with inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. This ongoing fragile state is built on one single fact that underlies so many of the problems these venues face: 93% of Grassroots Music Venues are tenants, and on average, these operators have 18 months left on their tenancies.
Music Venue Properties was conceived and set up by Music Venue Trust to deal with that very issue. We have created a Charitable Community Benefit Society to remove venues from commercial ownership, purchasing freeholds and renting them back to their current operators. Utilising a friendly lease, we aim to reduce rents, make contributions to insurance/repairs and offer rent breaks in the face of adverse conditions.
Fundamentally, landlords and venue operators do not share the same motivation. Venue operators want to plan for the future and invest in the venue – in sustainability, accessibility, diversity, artists and the venue itself, but venue owners are interested in the maximum return on investment. The issue of ownership underlies almost every other challenge that GMVs have faced during the last twenty years including gentrification, noise complaints, under investment, poor economic model and an inability to plan for the future.
In 2023, we raised over £2.3 million through a Community Share Offer loans and donations to fund the purchase of venues and help bring these cultural venues out of commercial ownership and revolutionise how we secure GMVs for future generations of artist.