Plan B leads to 23% decline in attendance at grassroots venues


December 15, 2021

During the week since Boris Johnson announced the roll out of Plan B, venue attendance, ticket sales and spend per head has dropped by a “catastrophic” amount and the sector is “on the brink of collapse”, according to the Music Venue Trust (MVT).

As part of Plan B, venue operators are now legally required to inspect the vaccine status of customers with the legislation having been voted in yesterday, 14 December, despite Boris Johnson suffering the biggest Tory MP rebellion of his premiership, with 99 Conservatives voting against the measure.

MVT said losses across the sector during the past week had hit nearly £2 million, with 86% of grassroots music venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3% – especially Christmas parties) and poor sales performance (23.6%).

A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours found attendance at shows dropped by 23%, with more than 140,000 ‘no shows’ from ticket holders resulting in a 27% decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 27%, with gig goers’ confidence impacted by a series of government announcements on the Omicron variant.

MVT said it has asked secretary of state for culture Nadine Dorries to create a ring-fenced “stabilisation fund” to protect the sector, pointing out that a significant amount of the £1.7 billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick said, “This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season. Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

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