The UK Has Lost 125 Venues So Far in 2023, Report Reveals

125 venues lost UK
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125 venues lost UK
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Photo Credit: Prakasam Mathaiyan

The British Music Venue Trust (MVT) charity says the UK has lost 125 live music venues in 2023 so far, sounding the alarm. Here’s the latest.

In an open letter to the UK government, the charity says “the grassroots music sector is in the middle of a full-blown crisis.” It predicts the UK is losing at least one music venue per week, with 125 venues lost so far this year. MVT was founded in 2014 and represents more than 900 music venues across the country, aimed at protecting venues for their communities and artists who perform there.

“One hundred and twenty-five venues have shut their doors for live music in the last 12 months, 15.7% of all such spaces in the UK,” the MVT letter reiterates. “That represents the loss of 4,000 jobs, 14,250 events, 193,230 performance opportunities and a loss of £9 million ($11.6M) in income for musicians and £59 million ($73.1M) lost in direct economic activity.”

Music Venue Trust says these closures represent an immediate economic, social, and cultural blow for their local communities. It warns that greater intervention is needed from the government and the wider industry to save these locations.

The UK government introduced a special 50% business relief rate for grassroots venues, which was extended to 100% during the pandemic. Post-pandemic, the relief rate was lowered to 75%. Now MVT says removing the 75% rate would “plunge the entire grassroots sector into the red.”

“The current 75% Rates Relief protects Grassroots Music Venues from an excessive and poorly reasoned taxation,” the letter states. “Removing it would increase costs to the sector by £15 million ($18.6M). In 2022, the entire sector returned a profit margin of just 0.2%.”

“If you remove the rates relief, you will plunge the entire grassroots sector into the red. Venues must and will close as a result. Even more local communities will lose their access to live music. Artists will have nowhere to start their careers. More job losses, less economic activity, less Research and Development. The UK risks producing fewer world-beating artists as a direct result of the decision you make.”