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Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee says it wants big arena operators to establish voluntary ticket levy scheme by September.

A music performance at a grassroots venue
The Six Six is an independent grassroots music venue and rock bar in Cambridge

Kim Cridland

A levy on arena and stadium tickets should be introduced to support grassroots music venues struggling to in the face of rising costs, an influential group of MPs has said.

A report by the cross-party Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee also calls on government to introduce a temporary cut in VAT, while analysis it is conducting to assess the impact is completed.

The report says that, given the urgency of the crisis, a voluntary levy on arena and stadium concert tickets would be the most feasible way to have an immediate impact, creating a support fund for venues, artists and promoters administered by a trust led by a sector umbrella body. 


The committee said it also wanted the industry to ensure the levy cost is not passed on to music fans.

If there is no agreement by September or if it fails to collect enough income to support the sector, the government should step in an introduce a statutory levy, the report adds.

The committee's inquiry, which launched in October 2023, heard evidence from across the sector of the scale of the crisis facing venues and the impact it is having.

The Music Venue Trust said 2023 was the most challenging year for the sector since the trust was founded in 2014, while Creative UK said the grassroots music sector took a "battering". 

In total the number of grassroots music venues declined from 960 to 835 last year, with a loss of as many as 30,000 shows and 4,000 jobs.

The committee also heard about how artists are facing a “cost-of-touring crisis”, while promoters are struggling to get shows off their spreadsheets and into venues.

Among the report’s other recommendations are for the government and Arts Council England to make it easier for the live music sector to apply for public funding.

It also calls for stakeholders across the industry to continue to support the Featured Artists' Coalition’s campaign to end "punitive fees" on artists' merchandise.

Call for action

Caroline Dinenage MP, Chair of the committee, said that during the inquiry local venues delivered a loud and clear message "that grassroots music venues are in crisis". 

The ongoing wave of closures is not just a disaster for music, performers and supporters in local communities up and down the country, but also puts at risk the entire live music ecosystem. 

"If the grassroots, where musicians, technicians, tour managers and promoters hone their craft, are allowed to wither and die, the UK’s position as a music powerhouse faces a bleak future.

"To stem the overwhelming ongoing tide of closures, we urgently need a levy on arena and stadium concert tickets to fund financial support for the sector, alongside a VAT cut to help get more shows into venues.

"While the current focus is on the many grassroots music venues falling silent, those working in the live music sector across the board are also under extraordinary strain. 

"It is time that the government brought together everyone with a stake in the industry’s success, including music fans, to address the long-term challenges and ensure live music can thrive into the future.”

Meanwhile, the Music Venue Trust has announced the second acquisition by Music Venue Properties (MVP) under its Own Our Venues scheme.

The organisation said The Ferret in Preston, a 200 capacity venue which has hosted artists such as Ed Sheeran will be placed into permanent protected status.

The operators of the venue have signed a "cultural lease" with MVP, an agreement specifically created by MVP to guarantee that, as long as The Ferret operates as a space for grassroots live music for the local community, they can enjoy the use of the building. 

It follows the purchase of the The Snug, a 100-capacity venue in Atherton, Greater Manchester, in October 2023.