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Select Committee told small venues need help

News
22 November 2018

A DEPARTMENT of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) Select Committee hearing into live music was told how grassroots venues were struggling to survive in a tough climate.

Held at Westminster on 10 October, the committee heard from rapper Shaodow, who explained the importance of having a healthg venue sector.

“Small music venues hone the craft – you perform in front of a small crowd, you get good at what you are doing until you move it up to larger venues and arenas,” he said.

“There is also a massive community element, giving you the chance to connect almost one-on-one with your fans and I think it is a crying shame there are so few small venues around the country.”

“It’s not just having an impact on younger artistes, but any artistes in the process of trying to build a sustainable touring arm to their ‘business’.”

He added he encountered problems finding venues to suit the size of his fanbase when booking a recent nationwide tour.

Giving evidence, Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett warned that, “If you strip out the grassroots from the ecosystem, the music industry we all take a lot of pride in as a country just wouldn’t be there.

“Artistes like Frank Turner and Ed Sheeran talk about how important it was that they had that opportunity. It is not as much of an issue now as it will be in 20 years.”

The hearing was told by Music Venues Trust CEO Mark Davyd that “every other European country is subsidising its grassroots music apart from us”.

Owner of London’s 100 Club (cap. 350) Jeff Horton claimed that many artistes were now spurning a full UK tour in favour of more lucrative dates on the continent.

“I have had bands fly in from America doing one stop at my venue, then doing everything else in Europe because they are being treated better, being put-up in better hotels and earning more money,” he said, commenting on European venue subsidies.

“That kind of bigger picture thinking needs to happen in the UK.”

But deputy CEO of industry umbrella organisation UK Music, Tom Kiehl, told the hearing that the overall picture of the live music industry is one of sustained growth.

“Some of the areas we have figures for show a high concentration of activity, particularly in the south,” he said.

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