The number of live music performances at grassroots music venues has fallen by almost 17% since 2019, a new survey has revealed.
Figures from Music Venue Trust (MVT), which represents almost 1,000 UK local music venues, showed that audience numbers had also dropped by 11% in that time period.
The MVT 2022 annual report said that 177,000 events had been staged last year, with 565,000 individual performances attracting audience visits of almost 22 million.
This is a decline of 16.7% over the past three years, which MVT attributed to significant cutbacks made by venues in order to continue operating solvently.
The report also identified that in 2022, the average grassroots music venue capacity was 308, of which 40% was utilised per event, and translating to an average of 124 audience members per event.
This is 11% down from 2019 when the average capacity was 51%, MVT said.
Mark Davyd, chief executive of MVT said the figures showed the necessity “to reiterate the precarious financial position” that much of the sector still faced post-pandemic.
“Obviously we are pleased to highlight the fact that grassroots music venues contribute over half a billion pounds to the UK economy and to emphasise their enormous impact on the cultural life of our country,” he said.
“But it is also necessary to reiterate the precarious financial position that much of the sector still finds themselves in – the current economics no longer stack up.”
Following the publication of the 2022 report, the organisation has urged further support from both the Government and the wider music industry.
MVT has called for a review of VAT on venue ticket sales which, it says, is “crushing the economic viability” of the sector, as well as a review of what it refers to as “excessive and anti-competitive” business rates.
We need a coherent long term economic plan that recognises the importance of what our members do and gives them a chance to keep nurturing up and coming artists and contributing to their local communitiesMark Davyd, MVT chief executive
Additionally, the organisation has outlined plans to ensure all new arenas opening in the UK contribute to the security of the wider music eco-system by investing a percentage of every ticket they sell into the grassroots music ecosystem.
It has issued a direct request to the City of Manchester, the Mayor of Manchester Andy Burnham, Manchester City Council and all Manchester MPs to ensure that the new 23,500 cap Co-op Live Arena, which is due to open in Manchester later this year, pledges a commitment to the initiative.
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“We cannot go on building more and more arenas with no plan of how to fill the stages they create in five, ten or twenty years’ time and without these new facilities playing their part in helping protect the grassroots eco-system,” Mr Davyd said.
“The threat is real: we need more from the music industry and we need it now, otherwise what is currently a crisis will soon become a terminal decline for venues, their staff, artists and audiences.”
He added: “We need a coherent long term economic plan that recognises the importance of what our members do and gives them a chance to keep nurturing up and coming artists and contributing to their local communities.”