• Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Linkedin
  • Share by email

Research conducted by Music Venues Trust finds 125 grassroots music venues across the UK have been lost in the last eight months.

Band playing in front of a crowd at a small venue

Pxhere/Creative Commons

Increasing numbers of grassroots music venues in the UK are no longer operating, with inflationary pressures and the ongoing impact of the Covid pandemic being cited as reasons for closure.

A survey by the Music Venues Trust (MVT) found that between February 1 and September 18 this year, the UK lost 125 grassroots music venues, with 76 identified as having closed permanently and 72 identified as having ceased to offer live music.

This represents “a significant and ongoing increase” in the number of permanent closures MVT has said, pointing to the fact that just 11 were identified between July 2022 and January 2023.


The study found that there are 835 independent venues currently operating, down from 949 at the beginning of February this year - a reduction of 15.7%.

The MVT said the closure of 125 operating spaces represents the loss of 4,000 jobs, 14,250 events and 193,230 performance opportunities for musicians, equating to a loss of £9m in income for musicians and £59m in direct economic activity.

Rising costs and falling footfall

The survey identified multiple causes for the permanent closure of venues, including the ongoing economic and logistical impacts of the Covid pandemic alongside the financial implications of rising energy rates, business rates and supply costs.

Other factors included financially unviable trading conditions, reduced footfall, increased operational costs, issues with noise and neighbour disputes, revocation of premises licences and venues being sold by freeholders for redevelopment and repurposing. 

Among the venues that ceased to offer live music, the causes identified for the decision included a reorientation of programming towards comedy, sports screenings or pub quizzes, a shift in focus towards fine dining or alcoholic drinks, a diversification in activities, prioritisation of club nights and themed events to promote footfall and limited access or availability of space.

Plea for continued Business Rate Relief

In light of the situation the MVT today (26 September) published an open letter addressed to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, calling on him to help address the crisis by extending the existing 75% business rate relief beyond April 2024 in the Autumn statement which is due to be delivered on 22 November.

The letter said that the introduction of business rates relief for grassroots music venues, put in place in January 2020 by former Chancellor Rishi Sunak, are an acknowledgement that the current system “is an egregious and inequitable tax” on grassroots venues that is in need of reform.

“The current 75% rates relief protects grassroots music venues from an excessive and poorly reasoned taxation,” it added.

“Removing it would increase costs to the sector by £15m. In 2022, the entire sector returned a profit margin of just 0.2% – £1m in cash terms on a total turnover of £500m.” 

The letter detailed the recent reduction in venues, describing it as “an immediate economic, social and cultural blow to the 125 local communities that have lost access to live music”.

“These were treasured places that bond our communities together, foster pride in the places we live, drive creativity and create aspiration,” it said. 

“For the British music economy, an area of the creative industries in which we are world leaders, this is 15.7% fewer research and development opportunities to support the next wave of British talent.”

Should Hunt remove the rates relief, he will “plunge the entire grassroots sector into the red”, the letter warned.

“Venues must and will close as a result. Even more local communities will lose their access to live music. Artists will have nowhere to start their careers. More job losses, less economic activity, less research and development.”