LIVE demands urgent action from Chancellor to protect grassroots venues and unleash the sector’s potential15.11.2023.
LIVE, the voice of the UK’s live music industry, is urging the Chancellor to provide vital financial support to the grassroots music sector in the upcoming Autumn Statement. LIVE has unveiled a comprehensive manifesto with five crucial priorities, aimed at safeguarding grassroots music venues and unlocking the economic potential of the wider live music sector:
- Provide urgent financial support, including an extension to grassroots music venues business rates relief and wider hospitality and leisure relief.
- Rethink the current Bill on safety at venues, known as Martyn’s Law, to ensure any new measures are practical and protect lives.
- Remove the barriers for UK artists to tour internationally, including by introducing a cultural visa waiver for creative workers touring in the EU.
- Protect fans by bringing UK ticketing regulations into line with other progressive music markets.
- Accelerate the sector’s transition to net zero through funding and information provision to fill any current shortfall.
It is widely recognised that the UK’s creative sectors are engines of growth, highlighted in the publication of the Government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision and the Labour Party’s Creative Compact. The UK’s live music sector generated £5.2 billion in 2022 and the summer of 2023 showcased the post-pandemic resurgence with a range of huge festivals, stadiums, and arena shows selling out around the country. Live music employed over 228,000 people last year, with a gig held every four minutes.
Despite this resurgence in parts of the sector, the grassroots music industry has continued to face an unprecedented period of challenge. LIVE worked closely with the Government during the pandemic to ensure the right support was provided in the form of a cut to VAT on tickets and the Cultural Recovery Fund. However, this has not been sustained despite the effects of the pandemic being compounded by Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis, and increased costs across the supply chain.
Grassroots venues up and down the UK, integral to the live music sector as a key part of the development of future talent, are currently operating on a knife’s edge. The Government’s Creative Industries Sector Vision identified that grassroots music venues have an essential research and development (R&D) role in the sector, but the policies used to encourage it in other sectors have not been replicated in live music yet.
Grassroots venues play a pivotal role in developing the future of the live music industry. They provide spaces for artists to become the stars of the future, enable people to gain the production skills such as lighting, production, and sound engineering needed for bigger shows, and introduce young fans to the live music experience. The live music sector invests to equip talented individuals with the right skills and training, but better financial support and recognition of their role is needed from Government so that a concrete pipeline of future talent can be maintained.
Steve Lamacq, Chair, LIVE: “You cannot underestimate the importance and value of live music to the UK, both culturally and economically. It is part of the fabric of who we are, producing world class artists and providing enjoyment for millions of people. But this is still a very challenging time for promoters, especially at the grassroots level where venues are increasingly struggling to cope with massive rises in running costs. We need to act now and recognise just how important these venues are, not just as the breeding ground for the next generation of young musicians, but also as proud, creative, hubs for the communities they serve across the country. Without targeted financial support and understanding, we run the immediate risk of seeing hundreds of these venues shutting for good, which would be devastating for fans, artists and local economies.”
Jon Collins, CEO, LIVE, said: “The LIVE Music Manifesto launched today presents a huge opportunity for our political leaders to supercharge a cultural and economic powerhouse. It is estimated that for every 10,000 people at a gig in the UK, there is an additional £1 million spent in other local businesses including restaurants and bars, transport networks, shops, and hotels. It’s crucial that the voice of the live music sector is heard at the next General Election.
“Simple interventions, like the extension of the business rates relief and a return to lower VAT to bring the UK into line with international competitors would transform the sector. There are also grave risks to inaction. We need to wake up to the reality that the grassroots venues where artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele honed their craft are closing at an alarming rate. We need urgent action from government now, or we risk losing out on future generations of British superstars.”