Music venues continue to struggle in current economic climate

Featured image credit: Pien Muller on Unsplash

Independent music venues are continuing to struggle with the cost-of-living crisis, with some of the UK’s most loved locations facing a downward spiral. 

Manchester’s Band on the Wall, which has welcomed performances from the likes of Joy Division, Buzzcocks and more recently James Blake, is just one venue that is struggling with the industry-wide price increases. 

Chief executive Gavin Sharp told the Guardian: “We’re budgeting all the time, but it’s becoming impossible because with inflation in double figures you don’t know how much anything is going to be in four or 10 weeks’ time. 

“Say one supplier raises prices by 6% or 8% – that’s not an isolated increase, it’s the same with every single supplier. And our staff costs – our single biggest expenditure – are being impacted because we’ve had to put up the hourly rate so they can pay their bills. It becomes a spiral.”

The venue posts an annual turnover of £2m ($2.3m/€2.3m) with its costs rocketing from £450,000 to £650,000.

Organisers at Band on the Wall have yet to factor in the ongoing energy crisis, as they managed to secure a fixed-rate energy deal before prices started soaring. However, the 12-month contract runs out in February.

The UK Government recently announced help for businesses surrounding energy bills, but Sharp describes these plans as “vague”. 

And now, it appears that there could be a delay to the information surrounding the price cap from the Government. There are also continued calls for interventions which could help business like Band on the Wall and other small, independent music venues. 

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) said: “Annual energy costs under pricing available now are simply untenable for small and medium sized businesses, in fact it was unaffordable six months ago. So it is long past time for government to act quickly, if we are to have any chance of saving jobs and protecting the future of the economy.

“Any further delay in the release of detailed support for businesses is unacceptable. Businesses are making irreversible decisions today, that are impacting thousands of peoples lives.

“We have now reached such a crisis point that only immediate and large scale interventions can save huge parts of the sector, with substantial cuts to VAT, an extension of business rates relief and a meaningful energy price freeze for SME’s which is affordable.”