Music Venue Trust fears grassroots venues may not be protected under the new government build initiative, while German promoters’ association BDKV calls for unified regulations for the events industry…

MVT

Music Venue Trust has called on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to clarify whether grassroots venues will remain protected under its recent ‘Project Speed’.

The scheme outlines its intention to ‘Build Build Build’, with planning rules to be changed from September. It would allow developers to “demolish and rebuild” vacant and redundant residential and commercial buildings if they are rebuilt as homes.

Project Speed would also allow a wider range of commercial buildings to be switched to housing without a planning application and property owners will be allowed to build additional space above their properties, via a fast track approval process.

MVT compares the new initiative to the Permitted Development Right, which closed hundreds of venues before the government acted to exempt them in 2018. It also pointed to Johnson’s support of exemption two years ago in his role as Mayor of London.

The organisation said the sector needs “urgent clarification” that the government does not intend to change the National Planning Policy Framework and intends to leave the protections for grassroots music venues in place.

The letter reads: “Without that clarification, the statement released today will have a direct negative impact upon discussions taking place right now between Grassroots Music Venue landlords and tenants.

“Both landlords and tenants need complete clarity from the government that Grassroots Music Venues will continue to be protected assets within the planning framework, and that it will not be possible to simply let the businesses occupying them fail and immediately see them converted to residential spaces.”

Germany

German promoters’ association BDKV has urged the government to unify its guidelines for events to allow for future planning as “it can’t go on like this.”

The group has bemoaned the rapidly changing nature of regulations, which has made any tour planning “impossible.”

Jens Michow, president of BDKV, said: “No other EU country has a comparable patchwork of regulations as in Germany.”

BDKV said it has previously highlighted the “absolute necessity” of uniform regulations in restarting the events industry following the COVID-19 shutdown.

The association also notes that current guidelines around distancing at events is not “economically viable.”

Michow said: “Even if there were an organiser who would be willing to organise a tour at a loss or financed by public subsidies: the 16 different, contradictory and contradicting regional directives do not allow for the uniform organisation of tour events.

“The industry is completely on the ground and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. It is currently not foreseeable when events can be reliably planned nationwide. We were among the first to be economically affected by the crisis and will probably be the last to experience a return to normal.”

Event Industry Alliance

Event Industry Alliance has called on the UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide a ‘go date’ to reignite the £70bn events and exhibition industry.

The collective group, which includes, the Association of Event Organisers (AEO), Association of Event Venues (AEV) and the Event Supplier and Services Association (ESSA), said that due to the lack of clarity has caused customers to question whether exhibitions will happen this autumn.

The relaxing of lockdown measures was welcomed by many sectors last week, however, activities in exhibition and conference centres were specifically excluded with no ‘go date’ given.

According to the EIA, a lead time of 8-12 weeks is needed to work with buyers and sellers to restart, unlike other sectors which need 1-2 weeks to start back up. This has reportedly caused a “confidence crisis” amongst customers.

The group estimates that approximately 70 per cent of exhibitions were postponed to quarter 3 and quarter 4 in 2020, and should these not happen, it would represent £8bn of lost economic impact for the UK economy.

The letter reads: “We have been contributing via DCMS to the (yet to be published) sector specific guidance through the Visitor Economy Taskforce. The guidance includes numerous control measures far in excess of that in place with other sectors, which have been allowed to reopen.

“We are in the ‘people business’, safety and customer confidence is key and we are able to control the environments we create as ‘organised gatherings’, through a risk assessed approach, including (but not limited to) track and trace measures.

“Our members are keen to understand the science behind allowing certain sectors to open (particularly pubs, markets and retail – essential and non-essential), where there are less control measures in place.”

Image: Martin Fisch