Music Venue Trust: Understanding Small Music Venues
24 Mar 2015
The report ‘Understanding Small Music Venues’ is an attempt to capture, through both qualitative and quantitative data, a sense of the current state of play of the UK’s small independent music venues. This report considers specific individual feedback from venue owners, promoters and other stakeholders.
It is clear from the evidence captured that the UK’s independent venues represent a diverse sector whose constituents play a vital role in the ecology of both the music industry and broader cultural sector; with positive impact on businesses, communities and economies – both local and national. The report reveals independent music venues to be operating under significant pressures, both financial and regulatory.
The report also highlights concerns about the image of such venues, indicating that further work needs to be done to shift public perception away from a rather tired pejorative of the ‘toilet circuit’ to a more celebratory narrative. This narrative must acknowledge and respect both the increased professionalism of the sector and the vital role such venues play in the grassroots development of live music. It is hoped that this report will lend both respectability and rigour to the debates about the future and value of such spaces, with the insights offered helping to broaden and temper such debates.
The report concludes with our recommendations for actions that will further support, underpin and value this vital part of the cultural sector. The recommendations are captured under specific headings which seek to clarify roles, responsibilities and activities, namely: activism; advocacy and support networks; improving the experience for musicians; qualitative arguments; formal representation; lobbying for review of licensing and regulation; venue identity and investment.
It is only through taking such a holistic view of the UK’s small independent music venues that both the true complexity of the debates and the true cultural, economic and social value of the sector might be recognised.
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