MUSIC VENUE TRUST: “Grassroots Music Venue Sector on brink of collapse”

The Music Venue Trust report that attendance has dropped by a catastrophic 23% in one week since the government’s Plan B announcement and state that immediate action is needed.

A catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head has hit Grassroots Music Venues since the Government announced the implementation of the Plan B restrictions last Wednesday (8 December 2021), placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

Losses across the sector in this first week of this new phase of the Covid crisis hit nearly £2million, with 86% of Grassroots Music Venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3% – especially Christmas Parties) and poor sales performance (23.6%).

Beverley Whitrick, Music Venue Trust’s Strategic Director said: “This is the busiest time of the year for Grassroots Music Venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season. Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours shows attendance at shows dropped by 23%, with over 140,000 ‘no shows’ from ticket holders resulting in a 27% decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 27%, as gig goers’ confidence was shattered by a series of government announcements on the Omicron variant.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said: “It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it. We have been here before. This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the Grassroots Music Venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the Secretary of State to act quickly. The government previously used Business Rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”

Music Venue Trust has called for Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Culture, to immediately create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector. Significant funding from the £1.7billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

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