London sees rise in grassroots music venues
The number of London’s grassroots music venues has risen in the last year after a nearly a decade of decline, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed.
Between 2007 – 2016, the number of grassroots music venues in the capital fell by a third, from 144 to 94. Following two years of stability, figures released today show that in the last year the number meeting the Music Venue Trust’s definition has risen by six per cent – from 94 to 100.
In the last year, eight venues have closed and one stopped offering live music, but a total of 15 venues – including three that have newly opened – are now grassroots music venues.
It comes after the Mayor revealed earlier this month that the number of LGBTQ+ venues in London has remained stable for a second year running.
London is the home of the UK music industry, which contributes £4.4 billion to the UK economy and sustains 142,000 jobs, and Sadiq has pledged to do all he can to support the grassroots venues, which are under pressure from development, rising rents and business rates.
That’s why the Mayor’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan introduced tough new planning rules to protect venues in the draft London Plan, created an innovative Culture at Risk Office that has helped support nearly 200 night-time spaces at risk of closure, mapped the capital’s music facilities, and helped to establish the Safer Sounds Partnership to assist organisers in putting on live music events.
Today, further support is being offered to the industry with the release of two new guides on how to open and run grassroots music venues. The guides, which have received funding by the Mayor, have been compiled by the Music Venue Trust, in partnership with Ticketmaster, to provide practical and straightforward guidance to support venues.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is renowned across the globe for the quality of our music industry, yet for too long we’ve seen the number of grassroots music venues in London fall dramatically. These venues are vital if we are to continue developing acts whose songs are played around the world and to support those who love enjoying music in their local community. That’s why I’m working so hard to support these venues in the face of rising rents, rates and development, and why I’m encouraged to see the number of venues hosting grassroots music grow this year.”
Night Czar Amy Lamé said: “Grassroots music venues play a key role in London’s nightlife. They inspire audiences, give a platform to aspiring artists and boost the economy. We know that venues across the capital are still fighting battles to survive, but we’re committed to doing all we can to support them. Only by continuing to work together can we build on these green shoots of recovery and help the industry grow.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said: "This week sees great news for London as the work delivered by the Mayor's team in partnership with Music Venue Trust is demonstrated by the number of trading venues. Running a Grassroots Music Venue remains extremely challenging and opening a new one even more so. We hope that our open source guides will be of real help to everyone in the sector across the UK, whether they aspire to open a venue or want to run their existing venue more effectively. We are grateful for the support of our partners in creating these vital resources."
Andrew Parsons, Managing Director of Ticketmaster UK, said: “Developing the next generation of talent is hugely important to us, grassroots music venues are an essential part of an artist’s career and a vital cog in the music industry machine. We have worked with MVT since 2015 and know the struggles that these venues face. These guides are another important step to keep music playing in grassroots venues across the UK.”
Kwame Otiende, The Jago Dalston, said: “We want to create a space that the whole community feel a part of and ensure inclusivity, diversity and community cohesion are our top priorities. I think the mission for grassroots venues has, for a while, been a very challenging one. But with so much support available from MVT, the mayor’s office, and other organisations, we feel so motivated to continue our work. Learning that more grassroots venues are opening is even more encouraging and gets us all a step closer."
Nina Jackson, music and venue manager of The Half Moon, Putney, said: “We are very happy the hard work of the Music Venue Trust is starting to pay off and London’s grassroots music venues are again on the rise. There's a long way to go, and we still have many venues fighting closure, but we hope the new guides they have produced, with support from the Mayor’s office, will continue to inspire and encourage even more new venues to open. The Half Moon has been a venue for 55 years, but we faced closure ourselves back in 2010. We now have a thriving venue with more people than ever visiting every week so it can be done!”
Notes to editors
The new guides from the Music Venue Trust are available here https://www.london.gov.uk/what-we-do/arts-and-culture/cultural-infrastructure-toolbox/research-and-guidance
The Music Venue Trust’s definition of a grassroots music venue is available here: https://www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/rescue_plan_for_londons_grassroots_music_venues_-_progress_update_-_jan_2017.pdf
Venues that are now hosting grassroots live music or have increased their live music to meet the Music Venue Trust’s definition of a grassroots venue are: Jamboree, Kansas Smitty's, Oslo Hackney, Paper Dress Vintage, Pickle Factory, Sister Midnight Records, Slim Jim's Liquor Store, Sound Lounge, Tooting Tram & Social, Total Refreshment Centre, Under The Bridge, White Hart Beer House & Kitchen
New venues are: Fold, St John's Music Hall, Earth
The venues that closed are: Echoes, Ghost Notes, Kamio, Koko (closed for refurbishment), Styx, The Good Ship, The Montague Arms, Underbelly Hoxton Square,
The venue that no longer meets the Music Venue Trust’s definition of a grassroots venue: Big Chill, E1