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Art sector leaders warn venues face permanent closure without government support, with others expecting to become 'warm banks' for those struggling to heat their own homes.

Arts venues could face permanent closure over rising gas and electricity bills, leaders from across the sector are warning.

Museums, galleries, music venues, theatres and other venues across the country may be forced to cut hours, close for the winter or shut down entirely, unless the government intervenes to mitigate exponential energy price hikes.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) warned around 30% of the entire network of UK music venues face the threat of permanent closure due to rising energy bills.


According to UK Music, venues are facing average energy price increases of 316%, from £1,245 per month to £5,179 per month, with increases of up to 740% in some cases.

Some museums and galleries have been quoted prices over 400% higher than their current electricity and gas tariffs from October, with further increases due in January.

Meanwhile, some energy companies are reported to have stopped offering contracts of six months or less, leaving venues unable to plan ahead. 

Other venues are struggling to find fuel suppliers at all after their previous firms collapsed or are facing demands for full annual payments of tens of thousands of pounds in advance.

Government ministers have so far failed to pledge any financial support to music, leisure and hospitality industries. 

“The uncertainty means we are having to revisit and adapt plans every month,” Carolyn Ayers, Estates and Conservation Manager at the Royal Greenwich Heritage Trust, where energy bills have increased by almost 400%, told the Museums Association: “These are scary times”.

Music venues on the brink

UK Music Chief Executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin is among those calling on the government to support businesses, adding that spiralling energy costs have “created an existential threat for venues and music studios”.

He has suggested the government cut VAT from its current rate of 20% and to extend business rate help to music venues, recording studios and other businesses in the sector struggling to survive.

“We all saw just how miserable life was without live music during the pandemic, when venues were closed for months – the high cost of energy bills could now close them forever,” he said.

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, said that multiple venues had no option but to accept the price increases proposed by the sole supply prepared to offer them power.

“The situation has rapidly deteriorated into a monopoly,” he said, calling on the government to “urgently address the fact that the market for energy supply has collapsed”. 

Museums and galleries strive to offer save haven

Many museums, galleries and libraries are anticipating an influx of people seeking safe, warm public spaces in which to spend time this winter.

Councils across the UK have been drawing up plans for 'warm banks' to shelter people who cannot afford to heat their own homes, as charities warn that 8.9m households are expected to be left in fuel poverty.

“Museums will be relied upon to respond to this crisis, but many will be struggling to heat their own spaces,” Alistair Brown, Policy Manager at the Museums Association, told The Guardian.

“People are beginning to understand the scale of the crisis and we don’t want to reduce the hours that museums are open.”

Tullie House in Carlisle tweeted that they are raising the cost of adult admission to the museum to £15 after their annual fuel bill increased 138% to £168,000.

Other institutions face greater increases still. The Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum in Cheshire told the Museums Association that its energy bills will increase by 353% this winter, from £9,700 to £44,000. Meanwhile, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard’s annual fuel costs have tripled from £277,000 to £664,000 in three years.

Brown added that without government intervention, organisations will have to make difficult decisions about whether to close, for the winter, cut opening hours, or cut other areas of activity to afford their energy bills.

“We want to see concerted action from government – as we saw during the Covid crisis – to help reduce the sudden shock of these huge bills.”