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Grassroots venues face mass closure if UK reopening is delayed

The UK Government will be responsible for a mass closure of grassroots music venues “within days” if it does not sanction reopening on June 21 according to data compiled on its behalf by Music Venue Trust (MVT).

Clubs face “an immediate financial and confidence crisis” should ministers decide next week not to proceed to Step 4 of the reopening roadmap. MVT said that more than £14.3m of assistance would be required within weeks to keep venues afloat.

MVT has this week been tasked by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) with collecting data from its more than 900 venues across England.

In its impact assessment submitted to DCMS, and seen by TheTicketingBusiness, MVT said immediate financial challenges include tenancy, bounce back loans, the cost of staff and preparations already undertaken to open and delayed tax, service and contract liabilities. An eye-watering 93 per cent of the sector — 879 grassroots music venues — face likely eviction resulting in the closure of the business.

MVT concluded that the potential crisis in June 2021 is “similar to, but practically worse in all aspects” than that which provoked the Emergency Grassroots Music Venue Fund to be established and delivered in April 2020.

Mark Davyd, chief executive of Music Venue Trust, told TheTicketingBusiness: “If the Government decides on a delay on the basis of evidence about the risk to public health we would like to see and review that evidence, especially the evidence from the Social Distancing Review and the Events Research Programme, both of which were due to be published before the end of May and neither of which have been made available.

“In the event of such a delay being required by the evidence, the Government, being the source of the decision, has a duty to bring forward a comprehensive financial package immediately which would prevent the closure of premises, job losses and businesses failures.”

When requesting the information from venues, MVT maintained that venues should “not assume any change to dates is likely or possible because of this survey”.

A recent MVT survey showed that over 17,000 full capacity shows are already confirmed to take place between June and the end of September, with nearly 30,000 shows likely to take place in front of more than six million audience members. With support artists factored in, it is estimated that there will be 91,500 individual live performances during the period, offering over 300,000 work opportunities for musicians as they finally get the chance to return to paid employment.

The MVT report comes as it was announced on Tuesday that COVID certification will be a requirement of entry into Wembley Stadium for UEFA Euro 2020 games. It is the first use of COVID certification at a sports event.