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Music Venue Trust seeks donations above £5k from corporations

Music Venue Trust said it is seeking donations above £5,000 from corporations and high net-worth individuals as it attempts to reach its £1m target for its grassroots music venues crisis fund.

Beverley Whitrick, strategic director at MVT, told TheTicketingBusiness that while she would not reveal the scale of donations to date, the support has been building and “conversations within the industry are looking hopeful for further donations.”

Last week, MVT launched the fund to prevent the permanent closure of hundreds of grassroots music venues across the UK. The Covid-19 crisis caused the shuttering of venues and has left the industry reeling and scrambling for support.

MVT claims that despite government action, over 550 grassroots music venues remain under immediate threat of closure, representing the potential permanent loss of more than 5,000 jobs, 100,000 concerts, 300,000 performances by musicians, and more than one million temporary employment opportunities for gig economy workers.

MVT launched the Grassroots Music Venue Crisis Fund (GMVCF) to place its existing Emergency Response Service on a crisis footing.

In addition to the crisis fund, individuals can make smaller donations to MVT via its Go Fund Me page. However, Whitrick said she would rather direct individuals to support their favourite venue and encourages all venues to make sure their crowd funder or other fundraising initiatives are listed with Independent Venue Week and Ticketmaster, “so live music fans can find them easily.”

Whitrick told TheTicketingBusiness that MVT is also working on an artist-led fundraising initiative in partnership with Independent Venue Week and English artist Frank Turner, with more news on this to come next week.

An extensive survey carried out by MVT between March 9-25 on which threats were the greatest to venues found that the majority of venue operators, or 31.9 per cent, were most concerned about the payment of rent and mortgage during the Covid-19 shutdown.

Whitrick noted that the membership survey was used to gather data in order to feed real statistics to the government to help argue for measures that would help protect Grassroots Music Venues. The final data was gathered after the government support that has been implemented to support workers and businesses during the Covid-19 crisis was taken into account.

Paying employees was the primary concern of 23 per cent of members, while 17.3 per cent were concerned that their venue would be secure. Other concerns included paying suppliers, licensing fees, services and contractual liabilities, as well as payment of loans/overdrafts, and lack of insurance cover.

When asked about what the impact would be for these grassroots venues if closures stretched to six or 12 months, Whitrick said: “The longer the crisis goes on, the more challenging it will be for venues to reopen and additional measures will be needed to enable this.

“The vast majority of Grassroots Music Venues in the UK occupy premises rented from private landlords. At this stage there are no government measures in place to prevent those landlords continuing to charge full commercial rents.

“In many cases the same property owners would see the permanent closure of the GMV as a positive because they could then rent to a business more able to afford a high rent. This is a huge concern for the sector.”