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Brian Coney
24 January 2024, 12:07

Over a third of UK grassroots music venues operate at a loss, Music Venue Trust report reveals

The number of grassroots music venues in the UK dropped from 960 to 835 in 2023


Over a third of grassroots music venues in the UK are operating at a loss, according to a new report by the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

The annual report by the sector charity, which describes itself as like the "National Trust" of music venues, found that 38% of the 835 grassroots venues in the UK - most of which are small and independently run - made a loss in 2023. With the cost of rent being identified as a particular strain venues, it also revealed that the increase in rental costs in 2023 rose by an average of 37.5%.

The number of grassroots music venues in the UK dropped from 960 to 835 in 2023, with this new report coming three weeks after the MVT revealed that it was the UK's worst year for music venue closures. Among the main causes identified as contributing to permanent closure were debt and bankruptcy from energy prices, business rates and supply costs, financially unviable traditional conditions related to reduced footfall and increased operational costs, and the economic and logistical impacts of Covid-19 and associated restrictions.

Noise abatement orders and neighbour disputes related to venue activity were also specified as leading causes in the report.

In the introduction of the report, the MVT said: “2023 was the most challenging year for the Grassroots Music Venue (GMV) sector since MVT was founded in 2014. An extraordinary number of closures reflected a combination of challenging factors, which also impacted on the ability of artists to tour and, for many venues, to sustain the level of live music provision in their communities.”

Just this week, London grassroots music and arts venue IKLECTIK announced a fundraiser to help secure a new space, following its forced closure and eviction due to planned property development

The MVT's annual report also revealed that 28,223 people are employed across UK grassroots venues, which is a decrease from 30,720 in 2022. Read the report in full.

According to a story in The Guardian, the MVT's chief executive Mark Davyd called for UK political parties to “make pledges for the live music sector as part of their general election campaigning. “It’s time to stop the excuses – we can no longer accept complacency from those in a position to help prevent the annihilation of our sector,” said Davyd.

Last year, Ticketmaster launched the option for fans to donate directly to the MVT.