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It's estimated nearly £2bn has been lost from music venues since last week's announcement.

No shows are up by an average of 27% in the venues surveyed

Garrett Coakley

Music venues have suffered a "catastrophic" drop in attendance, sales and revenue since Plan B was enacted.

The sector is on "red alert for the risk of permanent closures", the Music Venue Trust (MVT) warns, with a new snap survey indicating a 23% drop in attendance in a single week.

It's estimated nearly £2bn has already been lost as more than 140,000 ticketholders fail to show up, prompting an average drop in income of 27%.


Just 284 of 918 members in the Music Venues Alliance responded to the survey, indicating the real toll on the sector will be much higher.

"A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs," MVT Strategic Director Beverley Whitrick said.

"Losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure."

CEO Mark Davyd said the Government must once again ringfence funding for grassroots music venues, noting millions from the Culture Recovery Fund remain unspent.

"It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a stealth lockdown – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the Government acts quickly to prevent it."

Causes for cancellation

Nearly two thirds of venues (61%) said they had to cancel an event in the past week.

Normally this was because a performer or member of the touring party tested positive for Covid-19 - 35% of cancellations - but cancellations by organisers and poor sales performance were also significant drivers (31% and 23% of cancellations respectively).

Advance sales are falling too: they're down 74% in a week - the equivalent of £536,000.

MVT attributes the decline to lower audience confidence in light of the Omicron variant.

86% of the venues surveyed said they had been negatively affected by the public's response to Omicron.

The most dangerous time of the year

Christmas parties have attracted a high rate of cancellations after Prime Minister Boris Johnson cautioned against them.

Whitrick said this is the busiest time of the year for grassroots venues, worth more than 20% of their annual income.

"Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector."