Music Venue Trust

Music Venue Trust Issue Six Point Plan

CEO Mark Dayvd calls on the government to implement measures to prevent widespread venue closures

London, 15th June 2021 Music Venue Trust has today  issued a six point plan for government intervention to manage the impact of extended restrictions on grassroots music venues.

Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Dayvd has called on the government to implement the following measures to prevent widespread venue closures:

 

  1. Extend the moratorium on Commercial eviction, due to end on 30 June, until 30 September. No grassroots music venue should face eviction because the government will not allow it to open and trade to be able to pay its rent.
  2. Cancel the introduction of Business Rates from 1 July and extend 100% rate relief until 31 March 2022. It is frankly bizarre for the government to impose a tax on premises it is simultaneously legislating cannot trade in order to pay that tax.
  3. Extend Bounce Back Loans and CBIL interest and payment free period until 30 September. Again, it is an unsustainable position for government to permit banks and other lenders it is has authorised and funded to loan money to grassroots music venues to seek payment of those loans from businesses the government says cannot operate.
  4. Explore the Australian model of rent debt settlement, which has brokered a government supported division of rent debt. The best landlords in the UK have already reached arrangements with their tenants to share the impact of Covid. But too many have not, and the burden of rent debt cannot and should not be absorbed solely by tenants. Not pursuing an equal division of the burden of unpaid rent across the sector distorts the marketplace, resulting on venues on the same street being heavily in debt or debt free based on decisions by their landlord.
  5. Immediately release the funds held for Culture Recovery Fund 3, £300 million, through a rapid distribution process that addresses the immediate threat of the permanent closure of grassroots music venues. In the early stages of this crisis the government responded quickly through the Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund to ensure closures were avoided. It will not work to release this £300 million in October/November/December – the support is needed now. The government should replicate the April 2020 distribution of EGMVF to address the £36 million in losses the grassroots sector will face in the next 4 weeks.
  6. Work with local authorities to release undistributed Restart Grant money, currently £1.6 billion, to cultural premises, including grassroots music venues, without delay to address the challenges of the delay to reopening. Guidance can be issued quickly clearly defining businesses left out of Step 3 as being those which government wishes to see receive local authority support.

Specifically notable is that the first three measures required are caused by government decision; it is the government that is ending the moratorium on evictions, it is the government that wants businesses to start paying rates, it is the government that created the terms and conditions of the loans programme.

It is not just that the government needs to take positive action to prevent closures through distributing the £300 million fund that it already has, ensuring that the impact of Covid debt is distributed equally between key stakeholders, and ensuring grassroots music venues are prioritised for Restart Grants –  it is also the case that the government needs to take its foot off the accelerator of tax, legislation and debt that it imagined would be able to be addressed from 21 June and apply a brake to its own demands on the sector it is restricting.

Music Venue Trust

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