Newsletter: CMS Committee publishes insightful and decisive recommendations for Government on Grassroots Music Venues

17.05.2024.

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CMS Committee publishes insightful and decisive recommendations for Government on Grassroots Music Venues  

Following a rigorous consultation including roundtable discussions and evidence sessions, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee has published its recommendations for Government concerning the crisis in the grassroots music ecosystem. The Committee – a cross party group of MPs which shadows the work of DCMS, chaired by Dame Caroline Dinenage – proposes welcome and astute solutions which acknowledge the severity of the crisis faced by our grassroots and the impacts this could have on the longevity of the UK’s powerhouse music industry as a whole. Key recommendations include the introduction of a voluntary levy on arena and stadium tickets in combination with a reduction in VAT on tickets as a double-pronged approach for alleviating the financial burden weighing down the more vulnerable elements of our sector. 

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, said: “LIVE welcomes this considered, knowledgeable and wide-ranging report. It’s clear that the Committee has recognised the many challenges faced by venues, promoters, events and artists at the grassroots level, and the steps required to address them. LIVE set out to the Committee the actions we believe that the government needs to take to help unleash the economic potential of the sector, such as a reduction in the damaging and uncompetitive rate of VAT on tickets, as well as the actions that sit with us as an industry, notably the creation of a charitable arm, the LIVE Trust.

We are pleased that the Committee’s report addresses both of these matters positively and has entrusted our sector to implement the industry-led solution of a voluntary levy on arena and stadium tickets, gathering and distributing funding that will benefit the whole grassroots music ecosystem. We look forward to working with government on the review of VAT and regularly updating on our progress on the LIVE Trust. 

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, said: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the Culture Media and Sport Select Committee’s Report into the challenges facing Grassroots Music Venues. We want to thank the Committee MPs and the CMS team for their excellent work in understanding and considering these challenges, and the clear recommendations they have created to address them. These recommendations provide a clear pathway forward to a positive future for the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues, a set of actions that are deliverable, affordable, and will genuinely have a positive impact on live music in communities right across the country.

We look forward to working with the music industry and with the government to deliver on these recommendations as swiftly as possible. We would like to thank all the thousands of music fans that have supported our work across the last ten years. It has taken much longer than any of us would have liked to get the positive change we all wanted to see, but we could not have achieved this fantastic outcome without your continued support for your local live music venue.” 

David Martin, CEO of Featured Artists’ Coalition, and Annabella Coldrick, Chief Executive of Music Managers’ Forum said: “As the organisations representing artists and managers, we wholeheartedly endorse all the Committee’s recommendations.  

Most important is their recognition of the ‘cost of touring crisis’, and that the benefits of a ticket levy must flow down to artists, managers, and independent promoters – as well as to grassroots music venues. The entire ecosystem needs support. While we still believe this mechanism should be mandatory, the clock is now ticking to get a process in place before September 2024. 

We are also delighted to see the Committee endorse the 100% Venues campaign, and hope this will trigger action from the UK’s largest live music venues to overhaul outdated practices on merchandise commissions. The sale of T-shirts, vinyl and other physical products represent a crucial income stream for artists. It is only fair that they should retain the bulk of that revenue.” 

PRS welcome applicants to their grassroots fertiliser, the Early Career Promoters Fund

LIVE welcomes the PRS Foundation’s Early Career Promoters Fund, a much needed source of support for a much-overlooked element of our grassroots ecosystem.  Supported by the Arts Council England and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, the Fund offers grants of up to £3,500 for those organising and programming a wide range of events, as well as for promoters’ training and networking opportunities.  It is an initiative which also addresses the underrepresentation of women and ethnic minorities amongst the incoming promoter cohort, by allocating resources to a more diverse group, and encouraging the recipients of grants to support diverse artists and audiences in their work. The Fund is now receiving applications via the flexigrant portal with an initial deadline of the 13th June. Potential applicants can consult guidance here
With the grassroots facing a serious crisis – as the ongoing CMS Committee inquiry into grassroots music venues has made clear – this fund is both timely and important.  LIVE hopes that its audience will share the details widely so that all who deserve support have access – and anticipates the lift in the rest of the ecosystem that this investment will produce.  More promoters putting on more shows will grow a healthier grassroots scene which can support a wider range of artists and venues, and develop a strong pipeline to sustain the industry for years to come. Find out more about the Fund here.

The future of medical care at cultural events: Government wants your say. 

The framework in place for the regulation of medical care provision currently excepts the treatment of disease, disorder or injury at cultural events (and sporting events). In order to bring healthcare provision in line with the recommendations of the Manchester Arena Inquiry, the Department for Health and Social Care proposes to amend this framework in order to bring the provision of treatment at events within the regulatory remit of the Care Quality Commission. A public consultation on this proposal is currently underway and fielding responses to be submitted here, by the 21 June. LIVE encourages all those with expertise in this area to participate in the consultation in order to ensure that Government can design a regulatory framework which maintains the safety and security of our sector and its workforce. 

Power of Events’ Schools Engagement program connects with the next generation.  

The team behind this showcase platform has made it their mission to celebrate the strengths of the events industry and bring new talent into the sector. The pilot of its schools engagement programme, launched in January, has so far visited seventeen schools in East Anglia, with a view to introducing pupils to the range of career opportunities available in the industry. LIVE supports this forward-thinking endeavour, which safeguards the future of our industry by investing in the next generation of professionals. The next stage of the schools engagement programme, its expansion across the rest of Britain and Northern Ireland, promises further longevity in the workforce. The Power of Events’ regional rollout programme is currently seeking sponsors and schools ambassadors: to support, contact hello@thepowerofevents.org. 

Music Exports: Government wants your feedback

LIVE’s Jon Collins and the Musicians’ Union’s Dave Webster, as Chair of LIVE Touring, have been leading the industry’s march for improved EU touring arrangements through a series of productive meetings with the Department of Business and Trade, and Music Export Academy sessions. Last week, LIVE and the MU met with officials to flesh out plans for the provision of more specialised guidance for musicians and support staff touring the EU – much needed considering the current state of confusion amongst both musicians and border staff. 

LIVE will continue to engage with the Department of Business and Trade and its Export Support Services in order to improve the guidance available for musicians. The Export Support Service, which is designed to provide export support for UK businesses, are keen to gather feedback on the quality and utility of the information currently provided by their online portal and advice service. We therefore encourage musicians, crew, and touring professionals to test out the service, consider its strengths and shortcomings, and direct this feedback to LIVE in order that we may pass it on to officials.