Newsletter: CMS Committee hears from LIVE members at Grassroots Music Venues inquiry


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Culture, Media and Sport Committee hears from LIVE CEO and members at the Grassroots Music Venues inquiry 

On Tuesday, 26 March CEO Jon Collins joined LIVE Board representatives Mark Davyd, John Drury, Stuart Galbraith, and David Martin as witnesses outlining to the Committee the stark picture at the grassroots level of our industry, and what can be done to alleviate the pressure. The Committee, led by Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, were receptive to persuasive evidence put forward by LIVE and its members that the current  challenges across the grassroots ecosystem represent a significant threat to our industry and its major contribution to the economy, as well as to the accessibility of arts and culture at community level. Hear the story for yourself via the Parliament TV recording.

LIVE’s Jon explained the urgent need to support the activities not only of grassroots venues, but also of grassroots artists, promoters, managers, agents, and all the other players that shoulder most of the risk upon which the future of the industry rests. ‘Fundamentally, the live music industry is all about taking risk… we must ask ourselves how we can enable artists, venues, festivals to take risks. If those pressures [preventing risk-taking] continue as they are, then that room for manoeuvre at grassroots just becomes ever more restricted’. 

It is a testament to the informed responses of the witnesses, and the broader efforts of grassroots representatives in this space, that the Committee pursued focussed lines of inquiry around potential support schemes. As well as the possibility for Government-led initiatives like business rates reductions, VAT reduction, and Arts Council Funding, LIVE was delighted to contribute to plans for an industry-led solution. Jon Collins outlined: ‘there has been a consensus around the LIVE Board that there is a solution which is to develop an industry led solution based on [a] partnership approach … we think we can create a vehicle to receive funds and then also make sure those funds are spent by the experts in the right places that will have the most impact’. LIVE anticipates the Committee will issue its report next month with a series of recommendations for Government.

Welcoming Labour’s plan for the Creative Industries

With a general election expected this year, and the Labour party demonstrably receptive to the needs of our industry, there may be a positive climate for engagement should they form the next Government. Representing the industry in discussions with Labour and contributing to their Labour Creatives event earlier this month, LIVE’s Jon Collins observed the warm reception for Labour’s action plan for the Creative Industries – the initial blueprint of Labour’s engagement with creative industries should they form take power. 

The action plan (which you can access here) makes specific commitments on two out of our five priority manifesto areas – firstly, arrangements with the EU to facilitate easier touring (such as a touring accord) and secondly, tackling ticket touting by capping resale prices and empowering the CMA to regulate resale platforms. Taking action in these focussed areas will offer benefits that are felt across the wider ecosystem, and helps us to strengthen the support systems around the grassroots scene. We’ll continue to push for progress in the remaining areas of our manifesto – improving sustainability, seeking a VAT reduction on tickets and an extension to business rates relief, and refining the Terrorism (Protection of Premises) Bill – but in the knowledge that we’re already making great strides. 

What’s more, the Creative Industries plan is a commitment which consolidates the strong relationship between the Labour team and the music industry, already forged by bilateral meetings between LIVE and Thangam Debbonaire, Shadow Culture Secretary. Both LIVE and the Labour party are keen to facilitate further engagement between industry and shadow ministers (as we do with Ministers and policymakers from all parties): if you are interested in hosting a visit at your event or showcase, contact LIVE and we can facilitate.

LIVE’s Jon Collins commented: “LIVE is delighted to see a package of positive actions set out in Labour’s plans for the creative industries.  Proposals relating to our teams and audiences will allow more people to enjoy more shows, while plans around touring will help us to develop the next generation of world class talent”.

LIVE to descend on FOCUS Wales to chair expert panels

Wrexham, North Wales, will host another FOCUS Wales showcase and festival from 9th to 11th May in order to foreground emerging Welsh talent alongside their artist cousins from across the globe. Keep an eye out for Jon as Chair of ‘Meet the Agents’, a panel designed to introduce the UK’s most innovative booking agents and continue the discussion about the shifting dynamics of touring – and Head of Partnerships, Gaby Cartwright, as Chair of ‘Meet the Bookers’, which will provide an insight into the priorities of those picking lineups. Find out more here

Empower the industry by sharing your experience in UK Music’s annual ‘This is Music Creators’ Survey’.

Annual economic surveys by UK Music are a staple of the industry research landscape and underpin countless advocacy and education efforts. Previous editions, which you can access here, give an essential overview of the state of the industry and shifts year-on-year. Accurately calculating the contribution made by musicians and creators to the UK economy, is one of the best tools we have to advance the measures our sector needs. UK Music is therefore requesting music creators – artists, composers, songwriters, engineers and producers – to contribute their earnings to their This is Music survey, administered by AudienceNet, currently live here. Those who do contribute will be entered into a prize draw. 

British Arts Festivals Association launch inquiry into UK festivals sector

‘Festivals Mean Business’, BAFA’s ongoing research programme, addresses the scope and impact of the arts festivals sector in the UK. Considering the current pressures faced by music festivals – with rapidly accelerating supply chain costs causing twenty eight closures already this year, according to AIF – there’s never been a more important time for festivals to come together, share their experiences, and empower lobbyists with the information and figures that support crucial advocacy work. Arts festivals of all shapes and sizes are encouraged to contribute in order to support this research and design a strategy for protecting the next generation of events by responding to the survey, open until the 22nd April. Take part here

Member updates  

FAC (Featured Artists Coalition) Updates: 

“Artists and music makers are not supported”: The ongoing crisis facing grassroot music venues – FAC CEO, David Martin appeared in Parliament with Lily Fontaine from the band English Teacher, where they spoke to MP’s on the Culture, Media & Sport Committee about the ongoing crisis facing grassroots music venues and to represent the artists’ voice.

Happy Hour with the FAC and Deezer at The Great Escape – The FAC thrilled to be back in Brighton once again, for our third, annual Happy Hour mixer with their friends at Deezer. 

AIF (Association of Independent Festivals) Updates:

Shindig goes under, the 28th festival this year. AIF CEO John Rostron said: “Shindig is the latest in a long line of highly popular UK festivals that have had to postpone, cancel or call this year’s event their last in 2024. With the planned change of use for their existing site, the rising and wildly unpredictable supply chain costs that have come as a consequence of both the pandemic and Brexit mean they do not have the room to consider all that is required to invest in a move of this scale. We are sure that if the Government were to intervene with a temporary reduction of VAT on ticket sales to 5%, Shindig and many of the independent festivals that have fallen in 2024 would have continued. According to AIF’s ongoing research, this is the 28th festival to have suffered such a fate so far this year. We require action and support now, before our hugely successful commercial and cultural sector is eroded further.”