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Why we’re Supporting Independent Venue Week 2017

IVW is a seven-day celebration of small music venues around the UK, and the MU is proud to be involved once again. Here’s why.

The plight of the UK’s vital network of small and medium-sized venues has become a well-publicised scandal over recent years, with hundreds of stalwarts of the UK music scene slamming their doors shut for the last time. The sheer scale of the threat is eye watering, with an estimated ­40% of venues lost in the UK in the last 10 years alone.

The size of the venue closure problem in London became so pressing that in 2015 the city’s Mayor created the London Music Venues Taskforce to research the causes and potential solutions to this growing problem. The Taskforce concluded that alongside “market failure within the music industry” the principle causes of venue closure were due to “planning, licensing, policing and fiscal policy, and struggling to balance the needs of grassroots music venues with those of residents and businesses. This pressure, coupled with rising property prices and increasing costs for grassroots music venues, is proving too much and venues are closing”.

The plight of venues doesn’t just affect musicians, but the wider community too. Without The Cavern Club, there would be no Beatles, without The ­Bar, no Ed Sheeran, and without The Troubadour, no Adele. Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd says that it’s not just the ‘long tail influence’ that makes small venues important. “I can’t imagine what these towns will look like without their local music venues because it isn’t just a space for somebody to build a career (although that makes economic sense). It’s where anybody who’s even the slightest bit odd can find a home! That’s not just about musicians, that’s about photographers and designers – anybody with any kind of alternative lifestyle.”

The MU is working hard, along with partners including the Music Venue Trust and UK Music, to protect venues from threats which can sometimes come from planning and licensing issues. For example, our collective lobbying helped make the Agent of Change principle law in 2015. But there is still a long way to go.

That’s why Independent Venue Week (IVW) is so important. 

IVW a seven-day celebration of small music venues around the UK, and the MU is proud to be involved once again. The week brings together artists, promoters, labels, opinion leaders and the media from Monday 23 January to Sunday 29 January. 

Last year’s event saw venues across the country play host to a hefty 981 artists, who in turn played in front of 38,231 gig goers. IVW acknowledges and celebrates the people that own, run and work in these important venues, week in week out.

“IVW is a brilliant way to celebrate the UK’s incredible live music scene, and show that our grassroots and independent music sector remains as important as ever, despite the many challenges grassroots venues are currently facing. We’re really proud to be supporting IVW again, especially as many of our Fair Play Venues will be hosting gigs over the week, showing that there are not only plenty of places for emerging artists to play and develop their craft, but they are treated fairly and and respectfully by the venues too,” says Dave Webster, MU National Organiser for Live Performance.

MU officials will be visiting venues, talking to musicians about the Union and providing bespoke advice to MU members over the course of IVW.

For more information, to book a visit or talk to your MU team anytime, get in touch with your Regional Office.

Published: 23/01/2017

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