London Mayor’s Music Venues Taskforce offers ‘rescue plan’

A report published yesterday (19 October 2015) by London Mayor Boris Johnson’s Music Venues Taskforce, an organisation set up earlier this year and chaired by the Music Venue Trust, has revealed how 35% of grassroots music venues in London have closed since 2007, threatening a sector which it suggests is worth £66bn a year.

The announcement was made ahead of today’s second annual Venues Day at Ministry of Sound, which is thought to be the first national event specifically designed to celebrate small and medium scale independent live music venues across the UK, bringing together professionals from the sector to network, share ideas and views and plan the way forward.

In order to mitigate the downturn, the report outlines a rescue package for the threatened sector, including support for an Agent of Change Principle to be instigated in order to protect the UK’s remaining live music venues, echoing the call made by the Musician’s Union back in June.

The plan also identifies key factors and root causes leading to venue closures, including noise complaints, rising rents, licensing restrictions and the sale of venues to make way for housing developments.

The Mayor is set to publish a Culture and Planning Guide, advising on how planning policy can protect music and cultural venues. City Hall will hold a symposium for developers, planners, architects, local authorities and cultural organisations on 26 October, and the Mayor’s Office will continue to work with local authorities, developers and the music industry to encourage and maintain ‘a pro-cultural approach’, particularly in areas such as Camden, Denmark Street, Hackney and Soho, which hold high numbers of venues.

Johnson said in a statement: “From the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, the Clash to Oasis and Ed Sheeran to Adele, grassroots music venues have played a key role in enabling some of the biggest names in music to develop as artists and to build audiences. The Music Venues Taskforce report makes it clear that protecting live music venues is crucial to London’s continued position as the music capital of the world”.

He added: “This timely report will shape our long-term action plan to safeguard and revive London’s vital network of live music venues, ensuring the future of the capital’s culturally and economically important music scene.”

Mark Davyd, chair of the Music Venues Trust Taskforce also commented: “Working with the Mayor’s team of music industry and venue representatives has given us the chance to speak up for grassroots music venues, clearly explaining why they are so important to the future of British music and why London needs to be their flagship.”

The full report can be found here.

Source: Access All Areas

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