Halifax Piece Hall has announced a scheme that will support grassroots music venues in Calderdale borough through MVT’s Pipeline Investment Fund (PIF).
- READ MORE: UK grassroots venues “going over a cliff” without urgent government action or investment from arenas
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) signed a groundbreaking agreement with The Piece Hall as well as promoters Cuffe and Taylor that will now give fans who attend concerts at the hall an option to add a donation to MVT when purchasing tickets through Ticketmaster.
All of the funds that are raised will go directly towards supporting grassroots music venues in Calderdale borough through MVT’s Pipeline Investment Fund (PIF). The Piece Hall has become the first major UK venue to provide fans with the option to support independent venues directly at the point of purchase.
Speaking of the agreement in a press release, CEO and Founder of Music Venue Trust, Mark Davyd, said: “This has been an incredibly challenging year for grassroots music venues, with more than 100 venues forced to close their doors to live music and many more at risk.
He continued: “It is absolutely vital that everyone in the music industry recognises the incredible strain the grassroots sector is under, and so it’s great to see The Piece Hall leading the way with a plan that will really make a genuine difference to other venues in the local area. We are extremely grateful to The Piece Hall and Cuffe and Taylor for coming together to support the whole ecosystem around them – we hope it inspires others to follow.”
Today (October 4), the MVT also announced the first acquisition under its public ownership scheme.
The #OwnOurVenues initiative was first announced in May, following the news that legendary gig spaces like North London’s Nambucca and Sheffield’s Leadmill were closing their doors or under threat, respectively.
Having been backed by Ed Sheeran, the scheme aims to secure the long-term futures of such venues by directly tackling the issue of ownership.
The official launch of The Snug – a 100-capacity venue in Atherton, Greater Manchester – took place this morning, as did the unveiling of a commemorative plaque.
Many of those who helped the #OwnOurVenues scheme to fruition attended the opening, along with some local musicians – Ivor Novello-winner Jamie Lawson and 16-year-old Jennifer King, the latter of whom is a shareholder in MVP.
Last month, The Music Venue Trust have revealed to NME that 67 venues have closed so far this year, with 90 currently working with MVT’s Emergency Response. Roughly half of those are likely to close in 2023 – giving a total of around 100 grassroots music being lost from the UK in 2023; that’s 10 per cent of the number of independent gig spaces in the country.
Speaking to NME about the MVT’s warning from earlier this year, that the entire live music industry was headed “over a cliff edge” without government action or without eight of the UK’s new large arenas to “contribute to the security of the wider music ecosystem by investing a percentage of every ticket they sell into the grassroots music ecosystem”, Davyd said: “There are more big concerts going on and people are paying more money for tickets than they ever have.”
He continued: “This is the best year for live music in the UK in terms of gross receipts that there’s ever going to be. It’s not possible to make an argument that this can be accompanied by 100 venues closing down, cutting down access to live music for communities and cutting off the talent pipeline for artists that’ll never get to play.
“These two things aren’t compatible, and no one can tell me that it’s acceptable for the top-end of the industry to be turning in these massive gross receipts from these huge tours in stadiums and arenas while a venue 15 miles down the road is closing down because it doesn’t have the £10,000 it needs,” he added. “The amount of money it takes to keep these small venues open is incontestably small in comparison to the money that’s being brought in at the top.”
The MVT also penned an open letter to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt about how the situation is “as dire as it can be” with more than one grassroots venue closing in the UK every week.
“Between us finishing our report at Friday at 5pm and coming back at 10am on Monday morning, two more venues closed,” MVT CEO Mark Davyd told NME, paying tribute to Jimmy’s in Liverpool and The Brass in Hastings, which both announced their closure on Saturday (September 23) and Sunday (September 24) respectively.
Davyd continued: “Our report shows that we’ve gone from 960 venues in October of last year to 835 that are actually operating. That’s 125 less and a 15.7 per cent decline. Venues haven’t just closed down, but some of them have also given up putting on live music. The only way that they could afford to survive was to stop putting on live music and start selling pizzas.”
As a way to support independent venues, rock band Enter Shikari recently announced that they would be donating £1 from every ticket sold to their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour to benefit the Music Venue Trust.
Speaking to NME about their decision to donate £1 from every ticket sold for their upcoming arena tour, the band’s frontman Rou Reynolds said: “It sounds like there’s a lot of focus on providing spaces for the real high-end of the music industry. There are a lot of new arenas on the way, while at the same time there is no support whatsoever for the grassroots circuit. There’s a very clear link between small venues and big venues – especially in the terms of providing new artists with a space to find their way in the industry and find their audience.”
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