A Manifesto for Grassroots Music Venues 2019

The UK’s Grassroots Music Venues are a goldmine of British and international talent worth billions of pounds in future revenue, tourism, copyright and performance royalties. But they are vastly undervalued, underfunded and ignored. The UK deserves and needs a world-class Grassroots Music Venues circuit to ensure we remain a world leader in music.

We strongly urge the next Government to revisit the DCMS Live Music Report of March 2019.

This cross party report highlighted the opportunity for a new positive approach to our Grassroots Music Venues, which would strengthen their resilience, provide them with the support they need, and remove barriers to their ability to fulfill their essential role at the heart of our communities.

The next generation of artists deserve a world class touring network in which to build their careers. The next Government has policy opportunities to deliver that network.

5 Commitments

The 5 essential commitments for the next government:


  • 1. Reform Business Rates for Grassroots Music Venues so that the burden of an unfair and unjust taxation system is removed
  • 2. Create additional funding opportunities for Grassroots Music Venues that directly support their infrastructure and their ability to provide high quality facilities to artists and local communities
  • 3. Establish a Culture and Heritage Tax Relief so that the underlying long-term issue of ownership of Grassroots Music Venues can be tackled
  • 4. Expand existing Research and Development Tax Relief to specifically include development of new talent
  • 5. Establish a Statutory Right of Consultation on planning and development so that Grassroots Music Venues enjoy the same protections as Theatres.


Why should the next government take action?

Did you know that…

  • Between 2007 and 2015, 35% of the Grassroots Music Venues in the UK closed down.
  • For every £10 spent at a Grassroots Music Venue, £17 is spent elsewhere in the night time economy, supporting bars, restaurants, public transport, taxi firms, takeaways
  • Grassroots Music Venues invest £100 million a year in the production, delivery and development of new and emerging artists, losing over £20 million a year on this essential development activity
  • 1 in every 11 jobs in the UK is in the Creative Industries.
  • The Creative Industries is the fastest growing employment sector in the UK.
  • The Music Industry contributed £4.5 billion to the UK Economy in 2018.


Without strong grassroots, the UK’s music industry will wither and die. To ensure the future for the UK’s thriving music culture, it’s time for government and the music industry to come together and take action to protect, secure and improve its Grassroots Music Venues.

What politicians have been saying:

Kerry McCarthy, MP

Kerry McCarthy, MP
“Small venues have always played a fundamental role in breaking and nurturing new music – their survival is important for ensuring that successful bands continue to emerge from the grassroots. Critically, they also help sustain the cultural scenes and creative economies of many towns and cities, creating employment and attracting people into city centres.”


Lord Tim Clement-Jones

Lord Tim Clement-Jones
“Small venues are the bedrock of live music industry and the incubators of new talent. My Live Music Act was designed to clear away some of the red tape tape which surrounds them but if they are allowed to disappear it will all have been in vain.”


Nigel Adams MP

Nigel Adams MP
“We have world class music venues right across the UK that grow and nurture our amazing talent. These venues also provide huge benefit to the local economy as well as the obvious cultural benefit. Unfortunately, many venues are facing challenging times whether it is local authority planning and licensing issues or broader challenges and I am more than happy as a patron of the Music Venue Trust to continue to champion this brilliant cultural sector.”


Patrick Grady MP

Patrick Grady MP
“Live music is always a unique experience, and small venues are absolutely crucial for growing and nurturing new talent – and as more intimate settings for more established artists. Glasgow is one of UNESCO’s global cities of music, and the sector is an important part of the economy as well as our famed cultural and creative scene.”


Amelia Womack

Amelia Womack
“Sadly, the importance of culture and independent business has often be devalued by Government policy. We must protect small music venues in the name of our cultural heritage, as well as to support future generations of musicians and music lovers.”


What other countries are already doing:


Austin Texas is creating a new funding mechanism for Grassroots Music Venues to directly underpin their investment in new and emerging artists, a $3.5 million investment fund created from the Hotels Occupancy Tax.



A package of investments into Grassroots Music Venues to a value of €8.2million in November 2016 (Förderprogramme zur technischen Erneuerung der Aufführungstechnik von Musikclubs). The programme is specifically aimed at a move to digital equipment which is high quality and reduces energy consumption and costs.



51 Grassroots Music Venues receive funding from the Government following the advice of Muziek Centrum Nederland.



Infrastructure and trading subsidy budget which has developed 19 Grassroots Music Venues of exceptionally high quality – at the full subsidy rate, each of these 19 venues commits to paying each performing musician 2000 Krone, a fee equating to £250 per band member per performance.



The Musikkutstyrsordningen (Norwegian Musical Equipment Foundation) gives bi-annual grants to studios, venues, community groups, and rehearsal spaces for upgrading facilities and maintaining and purchasing equipment, 30 million kr per year, £2.8 million.



GMVs receive operational support from: Le ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, Le ministère de la Ville, de la Jeunesse et des Sports, Le ministère de la Justice L’Union Européenne – Lifelong Learning Programme and La SACEM. 195 venues benefitted from trading subsidies in 2015, 59 venues received infrastructure grants in 2015.



Music Victoria exemplifies the approach taken by Australia in recent years towards their Grassroots Music Venues, offering direct professional and infrastructure support to venues through a range of initiatives including funded programmes such as Good Neighbours, Live Music Professionals and even a networking programme, Victoire Music Crawl, which saw 25 Melbourne-based music managers, venue bookers, promoters, artists and music media undertake a three-day tour to Ballarat, Castlemaine, Bendigo and Echuca to see GMVs.


What Artists are saying:

Sir Paul McCartney

Sir Paul McCartney
“Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different. Artists need places to start out, develop and work on their craft and small venues have been the cornerstone for this. If we don’t support live music at this level then the future of music in general is in danger.”


KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall
“Small, Grassroots Music Venues are essential to the health of the contemporary music scene in the U.K. Without this network, new artists have no opportunity to cut their teeth and essentially train for the bigger stages which provide the U.K. with a phenomenal global musical reputation as well as providing a significant financial boost to the overall economy.”



“I have a page from a waitresses notebook, the numbered kind, with “Mr Soft £20 received Jimmy”. It’s the landlord of The Corner Pin in Stubbins and it was the very first time our band that eventually became ‘elbow’ got paid for performing. The rush it gave you. it’s like, “Wow!” Even just £20. People are prepared to pay to listen to what we love doing. It pushes you forward.

Without these pubs and clubs, musicians don’t develop. They don’t get a taste of what it would be like to live as a full time musician. And without musicians, you’ve got no new music and without new music it’s a very bland and shitty world.

So that’s why we support Music Venue Trust. Because everyone needs a place to start out and you also need to learn how to be in an audience and a lot of those small venues are the first ones that people visit as a music lover.

So for artists and music lovers, these Grassroots places are absolutely essential.
Let’s look after them.”

– Guy Garvey, Elbow


Ellie Rowsell, Wolf Alice

Ellie Rowsell, Wolf Alice
“Without independent Grassroots Music Venues, I’m not sure my band would be where we are today. They offered me a chance to play without knowing the first thing about how the industry worked. They bring originality, equality, opportunity, character and spunk to the cities they reside in and now more than ever is the time to fight to keep them going!”



“We fully support the great work of Music Venue Trust and City Hall to save the heartbeat of London’s vibrant music scene. When we woz young we had lots of venues we could play in and be seen and heard, our fear is that London is losing that. That would be a damn shame for new bands trying to make it.”



“There are many great small rooms in this country who do great work with limited resources, and they should be applauded and supported. There are also great bands, great musicians and great audiences who love music and deserve the best. It definitely seems a shame that when you ask musicians around the world about the touring conditions in the UK, backstage, PA system quality… you don’t get a more positive response. I come from years of touring the UK and experiencing the worse and the best, it isn’t a secret for anybody: there is still progress to be made.

The music industry can definitely affect a change. Labels, managers, big promoters, booking agents, artists and bigger live venues can group together and start to repair the UK’s reputation in live music by supporting initiatives like the Music Venue Trust.”


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