The Music Venue Trust (MVT) warns that 2023 will be the worst year for venue closures since the organisation was created after the government declined to intervene on energy costs for the sector.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced further support for theatres, museums, art galleries and orchestras in today’s Spring Budget, but the measures did not extend to grassroots music venues (GMVs).
“Already in 2023 one GMV is closing every week,” says MVT chief Mark Davyd. “The budget was an opportunity to ensure that this number of closures did not explode from the 1 April when GMV’s will be hit by excessive and unaffordable energy bills. The Chancellor has failed to respond to the evidence we submitted. There is no additional support for music venues and the inevitable result will be mass closures of venues.”
The MVT had recently presented details to DCMS and HM Treasury of the impact that failing to extend the enhanced business energy relief scheme from 1 April would have on the industry. It previously reported that some venues were seeing their energy bills increase by an average of 300% –in some cases as much as 740% – adding tens of thousands of pounds to their running costs.
“REGRETTABLY, THE FAILURE TO ACT ON ENERGY BILLS MUST INEVITABLY MEAN THAT 2023 WILL BE THE WORST YEAR FOR CLOSURES SINCE THE CREATION OF MVT IN 2014”
“Regrettably, the failure to act on energy bills must inevitably mean that 2023 will be the worst year for closures since the creation of MVT in 2014,” adds Davyd. “In the absence of any action to this challenge by the government we will once again be reaching out to the energy supply companies to try to avert closures.
“It is plainly in no one’s interest to allow buildings that house GMVs to become abandoned as the cost of energy needed to open those spaces to the public and performers cannot be met by any venue operator.”
Davyd adds that the organisation remains keen to work with the government “to unlock the opportunity that the GMV sector presents”.
“We hope that in the near future a budget statement will be made that recognises and acknowledges the economic, cultural and community opportunity these venues present,” he says.
Elsewhere, the Musicians’ Union (MU) welcomed the announcement in the Budget that the rates of theatre and orchestra tax relief will be maintained at their current levels for a further two years from April.
The MU had lobbied for the higher rates of 45% and 50% respectively to be extended to help the sector to recover from the dual impacts of Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis.
“We are grateful that the government has listened to the MU and others in the creative sectors and extended the higher rate of tax relief for theatres and orchestras for another two years,” says MU general secretary Naomi Pohl.
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