Music Venue Trust is fighting back against grassroots music venue closures with a new initiative.
The charity says over 35% of grassroots music venues in the UK have closed in the last 20 years. 93% of those that are left are tenants with only 18 months left in their tenancy. “Since the start of the COVID crisis, the sector has acquired over £90m of new debt, yet 67% of Culture Recovery Fund grant aid was paid directly to landlords,” says Music Venue Trust.
The issue of venue ownership underpins almost every other challenge faced by grassroots music venues. That’s why Music Venue Trust is launching a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) named Music Venue Properties. Music Venue Properties will purchase grassroots music venues by raising money via community shares. Music enthusiasts and investors can purchase these shares to help MVP buy freeholds while receiving a 3% APR return on their investment.
As part of a pilot purchase program for MVP, nine venues will be bought as a proof of concept. Six of the venues are in England, one in Scotland, and two are in Wales. The MVP has an initial target raise of £3.5m to purchase these nine music venues. The first of the Community Share Offers launched on May 23. MVP aims to purchase the venues before the end of 2022.
“Further venue freeholds will then be identified and secured as and when they become available. MVP will continue to raise funds through selling community shares and borrowing against the freeholds purchased,” says Music Venue Trust. “All rental income subsequently received from the purchase of venues will be reinvested towards the expansion of the portfolio.”
Upon completion of a purchase, MVP says it will offer the majority of current operates an immediate rent reduction. It also plans to help contribute to building repairs, insurance, and guaranteeing long-term security with market-resistant rents.
“This is the most ambitious initiative Music Venue Trust has undertaken,” says Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.” “The long-term security and prosperity of grassroots music venues depend almost entirely on one thing – ownership. Too many have been at the mercy of some commercial landlords whose motivations revolve primarily around profit.”
“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,” Dayvd adds.