Mayor hails positive progress for London’s grassroots music venues

23 January 2017
  • A progress report on London’s grassroots music venues is published today, to coincide with Independent Venues Week
  • Figures show that number of grassroots music venues remain stable for the first year since 2007
  • London’s 94 grassroots music venues contribute £91.8m per year to London’s economy and support 2,260 full time jobs

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan today hailed a new progress report on the state of London’s grassroots music venues as a “major step towards rebuilding London’s live music scene”.

The report by the London Music Board, shows that the number of grassroots music venues in the capital has remained stable for the first time since 2007, with 94 venues currently operating in London. The report also emphasises that, although good progress has been made in tackling the challenges facing grassroots music venues, there is still lots to be done in order to sustain the capital as a music powerhouse.

The report highlights the significant contribution that grassroots music venues make to London’s economy. In total, grassroots music venues contribute £91.8m and support 2,260 full time jobs. For every £10 spent on tickets to grassroots music venues in London, £17 is spent nearby on food, drink and transport. £44m a year is invested by London’s grassroots music venues in talent development, highlighting their importance in discovering emerging artists.

The progress report has been published today to coincide with Independent Venues Week, a week-long celebration of music venues across the UK.

It also includes a new map produced by the Music Venue Trust of venues that are open across the capital. The map shows that there have been as many openings of venues as closures in 2016, including Omeara – a new live music venue in London Bridge which was opened by Ben Lovett from Mumford and Sons in October last year. Since creating the map, new venues Kamio in Shoreditch and The Sound Lounge in Tooting are set to open. This, alongside the recent re-opening of world-renowned night club Fabric, highlights further encouraging signs that London’s grassroots music scene is recovering.

The original ‘Rescue Plan for London’s Grassroots Music Venues’ was published sixteen months ago and made recommendations to stem the closure of venues and encourage the opening of new ones.  The original Rescue Plan identified a range of factors for grassroots music venues closing and continuing to be under threat. This included rising rents and licensing restrictions, noise complaints by residents, landlords selling venues to developers, and the lack of an oversight body to represent the industry when issues like these arise. 

Since being elected in May last year, the Mayor has appointed Amy Lamé as Night Czar to act as a champion of the night time economy, develop a vision of London as a 24-hour city and a roadmap of how this vision will be delivered. Amy chairs the London Music Board, a body set up in April 2016 as a response to the original Rescue Plan. The London Music Board brings together representatives from the music industry, government, tourism, culture and education and oversees how the Rescue Plan will be put into practice.

Sadiq has also appointed Philip Kolvin QC, the lawyer who recently acted on behalf of nightclub Fabric, as Chair of the Night Time Commission. Together, Philip and Amy will work together to facilitate dialogue between local authorities, the Metropolitan Police, venue and business owners, developers and members of the public – ensuring everyone benefits from London as a 24 hour city and that the contribution of live music venues towards the capital’s unique character is recognised.

During his election campaign, Sadiq pledged to introduce the Agent of Change principle in the next London Plan, the Mayor’s statutory spatial development strategy for the Greater London area. The Agent of Change principle will mean that developers building new properties near existing venues will be responsible for ensuring their properties are adequately soundproofed and designed to reduce sound from nearby pubs, clubs and live music venues. Additionally, the London Music Board is working with developers to offer guidance on how to include venues in their developments, to encourage the opening of new venues in the city.

Amy Lamé launched the progress report on the same day it was announced that Hackney Borough Council had taken steps to protect the iconic Village Underground. This week, they will sign a 15-year lease to ensure the venue remains a grassroots music venue for years to come.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “London’s buzzing live music scene is world-renowned, having produced artists from Adele to Ed Sheeran, The Clash to The Rolling Stones. Grassroots venues are the foundation of our successful music industry. We’ve taken positive steps to address some of the challenges facing grassroots music venues, but there’s still much to be done. That’s why I’ve recently appointed Night Czar Amy Lamé to act as a champion for live music venues and the night time economy and will ensure that the Agent of Change principle is implemented across the capital – delivering real change for Londoners.”

Night Czar, Amy Lamé said: “As London’s Night Czar and the new chair of the London Music Board, I’m deeply committed to protecting live music venues across the capital. Over the past few years we’ve lost too many of these amazing venues so it’s vital that we act now to protect the ones we have and to encourage new places to open. Although these first signs of recovery are encouraging, it’s important to recognise that more work needs to take place to secure the future of the capital as a centre for music.

“In my first three months as Night Czar, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many venue owners, developers and local authorities to see how we can work together and I’ve been encouraged by the conversations I’ve had so far. For example, today’s announcement that the future of Village Underground has been secured for the next 15 years is a fantastic example of how venues and councils can work together. Over the coming months, I look forward to publishing my vision for a 24-hour city, and taking further steps to protect venues across the capital.”

CEO of Music Venue Trust, Mark Davyd said: “Since the original Rescue Plan for Grassroots Music Venues was published, we’ve made some great progress. We’ve set up the London Music Board, welcomed our newly-appointed Night Czar to chair the Board and we’ve taken steps to implement Agent of Change. I’m looking forward to working with the Mayor’s team to continue to address the challenges that grassroots music venues are facing in London, and hopefully, we’ll see a return to growth in the sector which will benefit not only Londoners and local communities, but the wider music industry.”

Auro Foxcroft, Founder of Village Underground and member of the London Music Board, said: “We're thrilled to have agreed a secure future for Village Underground with a new 15-year lease from Hackney Council. It shows what a progressive local authority they are and that they truly understand and value the importance of culture and grassroots venues as vital to our city and communities.

“It’s also very timely - there has been so much discussion and press over the plight of clubs and music venues – that this has been the first time in almost a decade that we've ended the year with the same number of grassroots venues as we started. The decline has stopped, the tide is turning and this is the beginning of good news and progress for London’s venues, clubs, and incredible nightlife.”

Mayor of Hackney, Philip Glanville, said: “Grassroots music venues are the lifeblood of London, bringing culture and creativity, while employing thousands of people and contributing millions of pounds to our economy. In a week that celebrates independent music venues, it is hugely positive to see that for the first time in a decade, the number of venue closures has stabilised. Councils have a part to play too, at Hackney we want to protect and nurture our grassroots venues by putting in place planning protection to prevent development, or by granting lease extensions which can help venues, like Village Underground, remain open and plan for the future.”

The progress report of the ‘Rescue Plan for London’s Grassroots Music Venues’, alongside the original rescue plan, can be downloaded here:

Notes to editors

  1. The London Music Board comprises:

Amy Lamé, Night Czar (Chair)

Paul Broadhurst, Head of Music, Greater London Authority

Alex Bruford, Chief Executive, ATC Live

Clare Coghill, Leader of Waltham Forest Council

Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust

Jo Dipple, Chief Executive, UK Music

Stuart Galbraith, Chief Executive, Kilimanjaro Live

Julie Chappell, Chief Digital Officer, London and Partners

Gideon Feldman, Senior Project Manager, Attitude is Everything

Auro Foxcroft, Chief Executive, Village Underground

Nick Keynes, Partner and Co-founder, Tileyard

Phil Nelson, Head of Music Industry Relations, BIMM

Alan Miller, Chairman, Night Time Industries Association

Trudi Penman, Licensing, Health and Safety Divisional Manager, London Borough of Havering

Ben Reed, Head of Brand, Silvertown Partnership/First Base

Ella Skye, Representative, Musicians’ Union

Claire Southwick, Managing Director, Primitive Management

Helen Sprott, Head of Music, Arts Council England

Louise Thomas, Managing Director, Break Communications

Claire Whitaker OBE, Director, Serious

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director, Music Venue trust

  1. The Music Venue Trust is a registered charity. It protects the future of live music in the UK by supporting grassroots music venues. It raises awareness of the vital cultural economic and community roles that grassroots music venues play. The trust also supports existing venues, making them more efficient and giving performers and audiences a better experience.

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