Live Music

MPs call for levy on arena and stadium tickets in the UK

Featured Image: Gabriel Barletta on Unsplash

Members of Parliament in the UK have called for a new levy on arena and stadium tickets, as well as a cut in VAT, to support grassroots music venues across the country. 

The recommendations have been made in a new report from the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and follow months of lobbying from the Music Venue Trust. The Committee inquiry was launched during MVT’s Venues Day in October last year.

Additionally, the Committee was informed on the difficulties facing artists, including a ‘cost of touring crisis’, with the struggles faced by promoters in bringing performers to venue stages also highlighted.

The Music Venue Trust described 2023 as the most challenging year for the sector since the organisation was founded in 2014, with not-for-profit Creative UK agreeing that the grassroots music sector had taken a ‘battering’.

The number of grassroots music venues declined from 960 to 835 last year, a net decrease of 13%. This also represented a loss of up to 30,000 shows and 4,000 jobs, according to the report.

“We are grateful to the many dedicated local venues who gave up their time to take part in our inquiry. They delivered the message loud and clear that grassroots music venues are in crisis,” said Dame Caroline Dinenage, MP, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee.

“The ongoing wave of closures is not just a disaster for music, performers and supporters in local communities up and down the country, but also puts at risk the entire live music ecosystem. If the grassroots, where musicians, technicians, tour managers and promoters hone their craft, are allowed to wither and die, the UK’s position as a music powerhouse faces a bleak future.”

The report added that a voluntary levy on arena and stadium concert tickets would be the most feasible way to have an immediate impact; creating a support fund for venues, artists and promoters. It was recommended that this be administered by a trust led by a sector umbrella body, and that the levy should not be passed on to fans.

If no agreement is reached by September, or if the levy fails to raise enough funds to support the sector, the report has called on the UK Government to step in and introduce a statutory levy.

Dinenage added: “To stem the overwhelming ongoing tide of closures, we urgently need a levy on arena and stadium concert tickets to fund financial support for the sector, alongside a VAT cut to help get more shows into venues.

“While the current focus is on the many grassroots music venues falling silent, those working in the live music sector across the board are also under extraordinary strain. It is time that the government brought together everyone with a stake in the industry’s success, including music fans, to address the long-term challenges and ensure live music can thrive into the future.”

Further recommendations were aimed at the government and the Arts Council to make it easier for the live music sector to apply for public funding.

The Night Time Industries Association’s (NTIA) chief executive Michael Kill endorsed the calls made by the Committee.

“I stand in full support of the recommendations put forth by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee in their recent report addressing the “cost-of-touring crisis” faced by artists and the dire situation of grassroots music venues,” said Kill.

“The findings of the report underscore the urgent need for comprehensive action to safeguard the future of our vibrant music ecosystem. It is deeply concerning to learn that venues are closing at an alarming rate, threatening the livelihoods of countless individuals who rely on these spaces to showcase their talent and contribute to our cultural landscape.”

Posted in Live Music | VenueTagged |