ADD2216 Music Venue Trust Grant Funding

Type of decision: 
Assistant Director's decision
Date signed: 
21 March 2018
Decision by: 
Shonagh Manson, Assistant Director of Culture and Creative Industries

Executive summary

London’s grassroots music venues are at critical risk. 35% have closed since 2007. The Mayor has made a number of policy changes to protect grassroots venues, including the addition of the Agent of Change principle to the draft new London Plan. In the short term however, London’s 94 remaining grassroots venues need practical support; help in diversifying their music offer, and assistance in reaching new audiences. Specialist guidance for potential venue operators and owners is also required on how to set up and run a grassroots music venue and how best to access the various forms of support that are available.


That the Assistant Director of Culture and Creative Industries approves:

The provision of grant funding of £30,000 to the Music Venue Trust (MVT) to deliver:

• A series of concerts to raise funds for the Music Venue Trust to support at-risk venues in London
• Recruitment of 5-10 emerging women promoters who will receive mentoring and promote the series of concerts
• A toolkit to assist developers, property owners and venue operators in opening and running new grassroots music venues in London.

Part 1: Non-confidential facts and advice

Introduction and background

London’s grassroots music scene is the talent incubator that feeds the capital’s success as a leading world music city. The Rescue Plan for Grassroots Music Venues (October 2015) identified a 35% decline in London’s grassroots music venues since 2007. The report made six recommendations to the Greater London Authority to protect and promote grassroots music venues. The Mayor has since implemented a number of these, including the addition to the draft London Plan of the Agent of Change principle and specific reference to music venues. A London Music Board has been set up, London’s first Night Czar has been appointed, the Mayor has also published a report on the impact of business rates increases on grassroots venues and updated the Rescue Plan document in January 2017.

The Rescue Plan also recommended that tourism agencies, London government and the music industry should invest in a campaign to promote London’s grassroots music scene, including venues and up-and-coming artists.

Gender inequality is also an issue in music. More than two-thirds of the UK’s live acts are male-only, women make up just 5% of all sound engineers and the industry has identified a shortage of up-and-coming women promoters. The Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign for gender equality will run during 2018 to mark the centenary of the first women securing the vote. Celebrating the vital but under-recognised role of women is key to inspiring a new generation to enter all aspects of the music industry, from artists to promoters to production crew. The Mayor also wants to encourage the music industry to address the under-representation of women in senior roles and on music industry boards.

The Mayor has also committed to creating London’s first Cultural Infrastructure Plan. It will include the mapping of London’s music venues so that numbers can be tracked and trends identified. The Cultural Infrastructure Plan will also include the creation of toolkits for developers, property owners, venue operators and public authorities to set up and manage new cultural infrastructure such as music venues.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) was set up in 2014 to tackle the serious decline in the number and quality of the UK’s grassroots music venues. It is the only organisation dedicated to working in this space and has established itself as a dynamic and effective membership organisation that is starting to turn around the fortunes of grassroots venues. MVT now has over 320 venue members. It provides an Emergency Response Service for venues at risk of closure and advises on the creation of new venues. It carries out research and produces publications and guidance to assist government and the music industry to support the UK’s grassroots music venues, which are vital to the UK’s talent development pipeline and £4.3bn music industry.

Objectives and expected outcomes

Provide the Music Venue Trust with small grant funding of £30,000 to deliver:

o A series of at least five Fightback London gigs in grassroots music venues, including venues that are at risk of closure. These would form part of MVT’s wider national Fightback programme
o Support for the Emergency Response Service operated by the Music Venue Trust. A proportion of ticket sale income from the Fightback London gigs will go to sustaining the MVT Emergency Response Service to support venues at risk of closure. The Emergency Response Service has supported 19 venues in London since September 2016. They anticipate supporting 12 venues in London in the coming year.
o Mentoring for 5-10 young women promoters working on Fightback London. They will receive a toolkit and contacts needed to put on their Fightback London gigs. They will also be matched with music industry experts with experience of every aspect of delivering a successful event, who will mentor them through the process. Establishing this group of new women promoters, and as part of a national programme, will provide a lasting legacy; supporting grassroots venues in the capital to programme a diverse range of artists and reach wider audiences in the future.
o Specialist guidance for developers, property owners and venue operators on how to set up and run a grassroots music venue. This will be delivered by Autumn 2018 and will fulfil the Greater London Authority’s ambition to create a music venues ‘toolkit’. The specialist guidance will be part of the suite of toolkits that will sit on the Greater London Authority website as part of the Mayor’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan.

The GLA will provide the following additional support to the Music Venue Trust:

o Assist MVT in contacting high profile artists inviting them to perform in Fightback London gigs
o Encourage grassroots music venues to use the GLA’s Good Growth Hub advice service which provides small business support including advice on lease negotiations

Equality comments

Under Section 149 of the Equality Act 2010, as a public authority, the Mayor of London must have ‘due regard’ to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation as well as to advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations between people who have a protected characteristic and those who do not.

A number of grassroots music venues are not fully accessible to disabled users. Wherever possible events will be programmed in accessible venues. Consideration to accessibility will be given at the planning stage.

One of the aims of the funding is to increase the diversity of London’s grassroots music scene by recruiting and training a new generation of women promoters. This aim will support and challenge the music industry to achieve gender equality.

The programme will aim to involve a varied range of performers and participants from a diverse range of communities represented in London. It will aim to showcase the best of London’s grassroots talent, creating opportunities and providing a platform for London musicians.

The programme will be promoted via the Visit London website and GLA social media channels, which target all Londoners and meet GLA accessibility requirements.

Other considerations

This grant funding would deliver on the following Mayoral policies and programmes:

• Protecting grassroots music venues
• Supporting the Mayor’s #BehindEveryGreatCity campaign.
• Continuing to support new and existing cultural festivals and events
• Building on London’s vital tourist industry by promoting the city’s cultural riches to Londoners, the rest of Britain and the world.
• Promoting access to culture for all Londoners.
• Increasing the diversity of London’s cultural scene
• Championing London’s vibrant night-time economy.
• Developing the Mayor’s Cultural Infrastructure Plan.
• Supporting the #LondonIsOpen campaign.

Financial comments

Permission is being sought to approve expenditure of up to £30,000 as a grant to the Music Venue Trust.

The proposed grant will be funded from resources identified within the Night Time Economy and Cultural Infrastructure plan area in the 2017/18 Culture and Creative Industries Unit budget and subsequently managed by the same area.

Activity table



Grant agreement signed

March 2018

Commence  programme planning

March 2018

Full programme announcement

May 2018

Deliver Fightback London gigs

Summer 2018

Deliver venues toolkit

Autumn 2018

Share this page