Dedicated to the Business of Contemporary Live Music

Venues Day calls for better treatment for small venues

22 November 2018

THE FIFTH annual Venues Day event, organised by the Music Venues Trust (MVT), covered topics ranging from the cost of small venues hosting shows, staff well-being and difficulties surrounding performance contracts.

Held on 24 October at Islington Assembly Hall in north London, delegates heard calls for venues working at grassroots level to be treated better by the industry establishment.

“We feel that the time is right to challenge some of the live music’s industry’s outdated practices,” says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick.

“Too often our members receive requests that are the same as those sent to larger venues or festivals with far greater resources.”

This was supported by Barney Jeavons from Aldershot’s West End Centre (cap. 200), who said he has been impacted by lengthy paperwork requests.

“Everyone says they really want to help these little, broken venues and then they say here is a 15-page form to fill in,” he said. “The whole industry doesn’t recognise the pressure on these little venues – it is killing us.”

On the subject of well-being, Dom Frazer from Guildford’s The Boileroom (250) told delegates there should be a standardised resource for venues to access when needed.

“That is what would be very helpful to me, as a venue owner, because it is tough to know where to send people,” she said.

Joe Hastings, who oversees all health and welfare activities for Help Musicians UK (HMUK), said performers and promoters are among those reaching out to his organisation.

“A lot of people in crisis have reached out to us, including musicians and promoters,” he said. “People are surviving on less and less in the industry – we are trying to develop our service to reduce that impact.”

Meanwhile, MVT’s latest accounts show it generated income of £170,697, an increase of nearly 10 per cent on the previous year. The figures also show an increase in the cost of administration, which rose to £169,093 in 2017, up from £141,768 in 2016.

This expenditure covers initiatives such as MVT’s Emergency Response Service for venues under threat, which cost more than £90,000, and organising Venues Day, which cost £30,000, according to MVT co-founder and CEO Mark Davyd, who provides freelance services to the charity, with Whitrick the only paid employee.

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