Save Grassroots Venues - News


The origins of Music Venue Trust (MVT) was CEO Mark Davyd’s idea. As someone who has co-owned a Grassroots Music Venue (Tunbridge Wells Forum) for over 25 years he was aware of the raft of closure across the country and started to analyse the reasons behind this. In addition, he and co-owner Jason Dormon (one of MVT’s trustees) were concerned about succession, ie. who will run the venue when they retire. As things stand, the only way for them to realise any sort of pension from Tunbridge Wells Forum would be to sell it, not as a music venue but for redevelopment as a restaurant or residential accommodation. Mark and Jason were unhappy with this so started discussing options for changing this. MVT was created with the long-term goal of making it into a sort of National Trust for music venues; an organisation that could purchase the buildings and lease them to people who would continue to run them as venues in perpetuity. As things stand they do not represent a great investment, so intervention in the market is required if they are to be saved.

One of the major factors on which we lobby is the need for recognition of Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs) as cultural venues. Too often the perception that they are profit-making businesses/bars/ nightclubs means that they are treated harshly by local authorities and local police. All arts centres and theatres have licensed bars, yet they are not treated as if serving alcohol is their main business and regulated accordingly. And GMVs are rarely successful in applying for cultural funding. There is no Business Rates category for GMVs so some are classed as bars/pubs and some as Sui Generis (which means unclassified and therefore not eligible for any statutory rate relief). In planning terms, when assessing the impact of proposed developments on ‘cultural buildings’, experience shows that local authorities have tended not to consider GMVs in this but if a theatre is threatened their response is quite different. For this reason we have worked hard to ensure that Planning Policy in all 3 countries says music venues specifically in the section about Agent of Change, and will continue to push for this to become legislation – ie. what developers MUST do (by law) rather than what they SHOULD do (according to policy).

In collaboration with Kerrang! and The National Lottery, MVT has a series of tours from superb established bands & artists heading to smaller “grassroots” venues near you! It is so terribly important that we support these venues how and when we can, so they are able to stick around for as long as possible. 

The Big Moon, Witch Fever, Sleeper, The Dirty Nil, Cat Burns, The Coral, Hamish Hawk and many more!

Using Format