Music venues across Sussex warn of closure

Music venues in Brighton, Hastings, Eastbourne, Shoreham and Worthing have added their names to a plea for urgent government help.

Call for action
Call for action

The Music Venue Trust has warned that up to 90 per cent of grassroots music venues will close permanently if funding measures are not put in place.

560 of their member venues have now signed an open letter to the UK Government highlighting the need for an immediate £50 million financial support package and a reduction of VAT on future ticket sales.

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The Brighton venues signing the letter include: The Green Door Store, The Hope and Ruin, Komedia Ltd, Latest Music Bar, The Old Market, Patterns, The Pipeline, The Prince Albert, The Rose Hill, The Rossi Bar, The Verdict and The Brunswick.

Also signing are The Printers Playhouse, Eastbourne and four venues from Hastings: Blackmarket VIP, The Crypt, Grand Elektra and The Pigs Palace. Other Sussex signatories are The Duke of Wellington Pub, Shoreham; Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham; and Bar 42, Worthing.

In the open letter, the venues state:

“Last year there were more than 175,000 events in our venues that gave people the experiences they love and the artists the opportunities they need. Since March 20 there have been no events.

“This is because our sector has complied with the public health guidance. We did the right thing. We closed to protect our communities. We engaged with the government task force and we explored every option available to reopen safely and bring live music back. We understand that in order to protect the public, it should not be done until the health guidance changes and we also know that trying to do it is economic folly which would be financially ruinous; not just for us but for our entire sector.”

They argue that if the financial support package and VAT reduction are introduced they would:

“…..prevent the closure of hundreds of grassroots music venues. They are the right thing to do. We are a dynamic, innovative, and inventive sector. We do not need permanent government intervention to exist. We are not asking to become a permanently subsidised drain on the public purse. We do not need the government to step in and tell us how to run our venues. We need government to take two simple steps and leave us to work out how to do the rest.”

The letter in full:

An Open Letter to the UK Government

We are the owners and operators of the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues.

Our Grassroots Music Venues are the fundamental foundations and cornerstone on which our world beating £5.2 billion per year music industry has been built for the last 60 years. Without our Grassroots Music Venues, there would be no Beatles. No Stones, no Led Zeppelin, no Duran Duran, no Sade, no Oasis, no Skunk Anansie, no Adele, no Ed Sheeran, no Dua Lipa. Our Grassroots Music Venues are absolutely essential to the whole UK music industry bouncing back at any time in the future.

Our sector delivers training, rehearsal spaces, recording opportunities and career development to thousands of young people and are essential to our communities. We do not just support the next generation of world beating artists. Grassroots Music Venues are where people come together, where they celebrate, where they socialise. Thousands of cultural professionals get their first taste of working in the creative industries in our venues, including many of those who go on to work in areas other than music. Grassroots Music Venues sit at the very heart of our creative nation.

Public Health advice is clear. Singing is a high-risk activity. Dancing is a high-risk activity. Standing close to other people is a high-risk activity. Being in a confined space for a long period is a high-risk activity. These are the four pillars of the live music experience we offer in our venues. Coming together with friends and communities to dance and sing with your favourite artists in any of the 800 grassroots music venues across the UK is the very core and purpose of why we exist.

Last year there were more than 175,000 events in our venues that gave people the experiences they love and the artists the opportunities they need. Since 20 March there have been no events.

This is because our sector has complied with the Public Health guidance. We did the right thing. We closed to protect our communities. We engaged with the government task force and we explored every option available to reopen safely and bring live music back. We understand that in order to protect the public, it should not be done until the health guidance changes and we also know that trying to do it is economic folly which would be financially ruinous; not just for us but for our entire sector.

It is now time for the government to do the right thing.

We are represented by Music Venue Trust, who have laid out a simple clear plan to the government of the support our sector needs to survive the next three months (July, August, September) and to recover in the future. It consists of just two steps.

1. A £50 million financial support package immediately

2. A reduction on VAT on future ticket sales, bringing tax in UK Grassroots Music Venues into line with our major international competitors

These measures are simple, quick, effective and would prevent the closure of hundreds of Grassroots Music Venues. They are the right thing to do. We are a dynamic, innovative, and inventive sector. We do not need permanent government intervention to exist. We are not asking to become a permanently subsidised drain on the public purse. We do not need the government to step in and tell us how to run our venues. We need government to take two simple steps and leave us to work out how to do the rest.

We need you to do the right thing.

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