MUSIC VENUE Trust (MVT), which aims to support struggling grassroots music venues, wants the sector and supporting artistes to raise £100,000 for its Emergency Response Service (ERS).
The ERS provides initially-free expert advice to venues under threat from planning, licensing or noise issues.
Under the banner Fightback, the charity says it is working with venues across the country to stage 100 fund-raising events.
According to MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick, its ERS was responsible for assisting 41 venues in avoiding closure last year, although she declined to name any, due to “business sensitivities”.
“This £100,000 is money that the sector requires,” says Whitrick tells LIVE UK.
“We are on track for a worse year, as rising business rates really start biting and there are more developments going on in cities such as Glasgow, Bristol and Manchester. We are probably getting four to six calls a week.”
She says four sell-out Fightback shows have already taken place, including the Wombats at Blackpool’s Bootleg Social (cap. 400) and Stoke-on-Trent’s The Sugarmill (400), while Bright Light Bright Light play The Horn (200) in St Albans in March. As LIVE UK went to press, Whitrick said she had no figures of how much had been raised so far.
Fightback supporting venues are responsible for booking the acts, deciding ticket price and promoting the shows, with artistes to play for “reasonable” expenses or a reduced fee.
“Obviously we are going to have some small shows and some bigger ones and have had big name acts coming forward wanting to help out for nothing,” says Whitrick. “No venue or act is going to get anything less than their expenses paid and all costs are being covered.
“We won’t actually be promoting the shows as we don’t have the time or resources to do the 100 events we have planned,” says Fightback event manager Gary Prosser, although he adds the costs of all shows will be underwritten and a announcement about funding and sponsorship is imminent.
MVT’s first Fightback concert was held at London’s Roundhouse in October 2016, with the charity’s CEO Mark Davyd telling LIVE UK that 1,500 tickets were sold at £10 and a further 900 between £20-30, grossing at least £33,000, and that Arts Council England would match the sum.
A follow-up event at Camden’s Electric Ballroom (1,100) last year was called off at short notice.
Meanwhile Whitrick says MVT’s long-term ambition to acquire the freeholds of as many grassroots venues as possible remains a core aim of the charity.
“That was always our original plan when we started in 2014,” she says. “There are lots of complex issues, but it’s what we are working towards.”