Music Venue Trust

Grassroots music venue sector on brink of collapse

Attendance drops by a catastrophic 23% in one week since Plan B announcement. Music Venue Trust urges Government to take action immediately

London, 14th December 2021 A catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head has hit Grassroots Music Venues since the Government announced the implementation of the Plan B restrictions last Wednesday, placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

Losses across the sector in this first week of this new phase of the Covid crisis hit nearly £2million, with 86% of grassroots music venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3% – especially Christmas Parties) and poor sales performance (23.6%).

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director MVT said:

“This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season. Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours shows attendance at shows has dropped by 23% resulting in a 27% decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 27%, as gig goers’ confidence was shattered by a series of government announcements on the Omicron variant.

Mark Davyd, CEO MVT said:

“It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it.”

Music Venue Trust has called for Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Culture, to immediately create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector. Significant funding from the £1.7 billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

“We have been here before” says Davyd, “This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the Secretary of State to act quickly. The government previously used Business Rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”


Impact of the emergence of the Omicron variant and the announcement of Plan B implementation on the UK Grassroots Live Music Sector

Information in this report was compiled from a survey circulated amongst the Music Venues Alliance: a 918 strong network of the UK’s grassroots music venues (GMVs). The statistics shown below are based upon information provided by 284 survey respondents, reporting on their business between the dates of 6-13 December 2021. This sample is considered statistically significant and provides 95% accuracy in relation to outcomes for the whole sector.

The Impact – UK Music Venues

86.3% of UK GMVs reported to have been negatively impacted by the public’s response to Omicron

76.4% of UK GMVs saw a decrease in their gross income in the week of 6-13 December

The average gross income decrease was 27.1%

79.2% of UK GMVs saw an increase in no shows (advance ticket buyers who did not attend a show) in the week of 6-13 December

The average no show increase was 23.1%

An estimated 142,772 ticket holders failed to attend

74.3% of UK GMVs saw a decrease in their advance ticket sales in the week of 6-13 December

The average advance ticket sales decrease was 27%

60.9% of UK GMVs had to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December. This was primarily due to a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3%) and poor sales performance (23.6%)

The Economic Impact – UK Music Venues

The Economic Impacts detailed in this report are extrapolated from the 284 survey respondents to reflect the impact across the entire MVA network of 918 GMVs, using supplemental data from the MVT 2019 Grassroots Music Venue Survey.

Estimated Gross Income Lost (6-13 December 2021) = £1,938,602 

Consisting of; 

  1. Total weekly lost revenue from ticket holders who did not show up (no shows) = £859,386 
  2. Total weekly downturn in walk ups and as a result of cancellations (potential ticket and bar spend) = £543,199
  3. Total weekly decrease in advance ticket sales =  £536,017
Music Venue Trust

Music Venue Trust is a UK registered charity which acts to protect, secure and improve Grassroots Music Venues.