Music lovers aim to secure the future of grassroots venues with scheme to invest

The Music Venue Trust wants to save clubs, bars and cafes which are under threat as their tenancies come to an end.

Lucinda Cameron
Monday 23 May 2022 14:16
The scheme aims to help grassroots music venues (David Jones/PA)
The scheme aims to help grassroots music venues (David Jones/PA)

A group has launched a scheme to help secure the long-term future of grassroots music venues around the UK as part of a “radical” move to help a sector facing decimation.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) said that more than 35% of grassroots music venues (GMVs) have closed in the last 20 years.

It has identified nine venues around the UK which it hopes to preserve as music venues and aims to do so by raising money to buy the freeholds of each venue, selling shares to “music fans and ethical investors”.

It has launched a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) named Music Venue Properties (MVP), to purchase the freehold of GMV properties.

Unlike a charity, a CCBS can raise money via community shares, the sale of which will help raise funds to allow MVP to buy freeholds.

Mark Davyd, chief executive of Music Venue Trust, said: “The long-term security and prosperity of grassroots music venues depends almost entirely on one thing – ownership.

“Too many have been at the mercy of some commercial landlords whose motivations revolve primarily around profit.

“We have lost over a third of our venues in the last 20 years and with over 90% having only 18 months left on their tenancies, we are at the cliff edge and could see the decimation of our sector if we don’t do something radical about it.

“The Music Venue Properties scheme will allow ethical investors and music fans to invest in the future of live music while receiving a healthy return on their money.

“Our #SaveOurVenues campaign launched during the pandemic raised over £4.1 million with more than 80,000 people contributing.

“We already have the crowd – we just need to ask them to invest from May 23 and are confident they will.”

The society hopes to raise £3.5 million and purchase the nine venues by the end of the year, with investors offered a 3% APR return on their investment.

One of the venues is in Scotland, The Glad Cafe in Glasgow while two, Le Pub in Newport and Bunkhouse, Swansea, are in Wales.

The other six venues are in England: The Ferret in Preston, The Snug in Atherton, The Hairy Dog in Derby, Sunbird in Darwen, The Polar Bear in Hull and The Palladium in Bideford.

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