UK risks losing out on ‘future generation of superstars’ if government doesn’t protect music venues

todayNovember 16, 2023 3

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Steve Lamacq has warned of the “challenging time” faced by the live music sector, as grassroots venues face massive rises in running costs and ongoing closures.

The veteran DJ and BBC Radio presenter was recently appointed chair of LIVE, a trade body representing the UK’s live music industry.

Ahead of the impending Autumn Statement, LIVE is urging chancellor of the exchequer Jeremy Hunt to provide vital financial support to help safeguard grassroots venues and boost the economic potential of the live music sector.

“You cannot underestimate the importance and value of live music to the UK, both culturally and economically,” Lamacq said in a statement.

“It is part of the fabric of who we are, producing world class artists and providing enjoyment for millions of people. But this is still a very challenging time for promoters, especially at the grassroots level where venues are increasingly struggling to cope with massive rises in running costs.”

Lamacq said it was essential to act now and “recognise just how important these venues are, not just as the breeding ground for the next generation of young musicians, but also as proud, creative, hubs for the communities they serve across the country”.

“Without targeted financial support and understanding, we run the immediate risk of seeing hundreds of these venues shutting for good, which would be devastating for fans, artists and local economies,” he said.

Steve Lamacq, BBC 6 Music presenter and chair of industry body LIVE

(BBC/Ray Burmiston)

Post-pandemic, the UK music industry has been showing steady signs of growth, generating £5.2bn last year and employing over 228,000 people.

However, British musicians and others working in the creative industries are still being impeded by post-Brexit red tape, which makes touring in the EU a more complicated and costly endeavour.

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While LIVE worked closely with the government during the pandemic to ensure support for the UK’s music industry, it says that this support has not been sustained.

This is despite the lingering effects of the pandemic on businesses being exacerbated by Brexit, the cost-of-living crisis, and soaring costs in the industry’s supply chain.

A new manifesto, launched today (Wednesday 15 November), calls for a number of changes, including the introduction of a cultural visa waiver for creative workers touring in the EU.

Jon Collins, CEO of LIVE, said: “The LIVE Music Manifesto launched today presents a huge opportunity for our political leaders to supercharge a cultural and economic powerhouse.

“It is estimated that for every 10,000 people at a gig in the UK, there is an additional £1 million spent in other local businesses including restaurants and bars, transport networks, shops, and hotels. It’s crucial that the voice of the live music sector is heard at the next general election.”

Ed Sheeran started out playing many of the UK’s grassroots music venues, many of which now face permanent closure


Collins said that simple interventions, such as the extension of the business rates relief and a return to lower VAT, would help align the UK with its international competitors.

“We need to wake up to the reality that the grassroots venues where artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele honed their craft are closing at an alarming rate,” he said.

“We need urgent action from the government now, or we risk losing out on future generations of British superstars.”

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Written by: Soft FM Radio Staff

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