Over one third of grassroots music venues have closed down in the last 20 years. While over nine in ten grassroots music venues are tenants and do not own their premises, over two thirds of Cultural Recovery Grants (that were supposed to help the creative sector survive the pandemic) were paid to landlords. With an average of 18 months of tenancy left, grassroots music venues are facing an unprecedented threat of being razed to the ground.
To revitalise the sector, Music Venue Trust, an organisation whose membership consists of 900 grassroots music venues and whose patrons include many of Britain’s best known musicians such as Sir Paul McCartney, have launched “Own our venues” campaign. The campaign is centred around establishing Music Venue Properties, a social enterprise democratically co-owned by the trust and everyone who wants to invest in the venture; giving gig-goers and musicians a chance to have a stake and say in how it’s operated.
The enterprise will purchase premises that grassroots venues are tenants of and lease them back to the venue operators at as affordable rates and favourable terms as possible. The venues that form the Music Venue Trust will gradually become their own landlords. Whereas currently community music venues are dependent on the whims of landlords whose only goal is to make money from the property; rather than use it to offer great experiences and events to the local community. More often than not, the most enjoyable events are not synonymous with the most lucrative events.