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Grassroots live music venues suffer 'most challenging year' Published Date: 29/01/2024

Music Venue Trust (MVT), which represents hundreds of UK Grassroots Music Venues (GMVs), has launched its 2023 Annual Report, which highlights the important contribution that its members make to the UK economy while painting a stark picture of the challenges, such as rising rent demands and high energy costs, still facing the overwhelming number of live music spaces.

With 125 GMVs shutting at the rate of two per week last year, this report throws into sharp focus the contrast between those companies and artists at the top end of the live music sector currently enjoying record revenues and profits, and the remaining Grassroots Music Venues, 38% of which reported a loss in 2023 despite an increased demand for tickets.

A survey of the remaining 835 members of the Music Venues Alliance (MVA), who employ over 28,000 people throughout the sector, found that they staged over 187,000 events in 2023, with 1.7m individual artist performances attracting audience visits of over 23.5m. However, despite generating over £500m in revenues, GMVs made just £2.5m or 0.5% profit for the period.

This report also details how, without a combination of grants and donations totalling £3.1m from MVT’s own Pipeline Investment Fund, Arts Council England and other bodies, the whole sector would have operated at a loss during this period. In total the amount that GMVs are subsidising live music rose from £79m in 2022 to £115m in 2023, an increase of £36 million or 45% over the previous 12 months.

With energy costs remaining high and rent increases averaging 37%, 164 member venues – particularly smaller venues or those in rural locations – accessed the MVT Emergency Response Service which, for the first time since the organisation’s launch a decade ago, found that the primary cause of venue closure was a lack of financial viability.