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Although the campaign is yet to hit its initial £2.5m target, Music Venue Trust says it plans to go ahead with scheme aiming to secure the future of grassroots music venues.

Exterior of music venue the Ferret
The Ferret in Preston is one of nine venues in the scheme

Jonny Edge

An initiative to purchase the freehold of grassroots music venues to safeguard their future can still go ahead despite currently being £500,000 short of its initial crowdfunding target, organisers have said.

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) launched its Own Our Venues campaign last June. As of today (28 March), the charity has met 79% of its £2.5m target, with pledges totalling £1.98m from 572 investors. By supporting the scheme, investors are buying shares in a community benefit society set up by MVT, called Music Venue Properties, which will purchase the freeholds of the venues. In turn, investors have been told they will receive annual returns of 3%.

A MVT spokesperson told Arts Professional the charity still plans to move ahead with the initiative, even if its initial target is not reached by the end of the week.


The spokesperson said MVT has a set of internal financial projections which “show that it is viable to move ahead with what has already been raised”.

“This does of course mean buying less venues, though we also have plans on how we'd eventually buy the remaining venues,” they added.

“If we don't reach this target, then we will finalise the financial projections shortly after the share offer closes, then send out our new plan for investor approval.”

Last week, the campaign secured a £500,000 loan from the Arts and Culture Impact Fund.

An update on the crowdfunder page says that if the £2.5m target is not met, investors will be given an opportunity to reassess their position.

If MVT can reach its £2.5m target, it plans to acquire the freeholds of nine venues in the first phase of the scheme.

The venues include Preston’s The Ferret, Atherton’s The Snug, Derby’s The Hairy Dog, Darwen’s Sunbird, Hull’s The Polar Bar and Bideford’s The Palladium. 

Newport’s Le Pub and Swansea’s Bunkhouse in Wales and Glasgow’s The Glad Café in Scotland are also included in the plans.

Once the purchase of a venue is completed, the venue will be offered an immediate rent reduction, as well as contribution to building repairs and insurance.

Grassroots music venues across the UK are facing uncertain futures as the live music sector continues its recovery from the pandemic. MVT estimates 93% of grassroots music venues are currently tenants with less than 18 months on their tenancy, while 35% have closed in the last 20 years.

The charity responded to the government’s Spring Budget in March with a warning that this year “will be the worst year for closures” in the past decade.

“Already in 2023 one Grassroots Music Venue is closing every week... there is no additional support for music venues [in the Budget] and the inevitable result will be mass closures of venues,” MVT’s statement read.

The crowdfunding campaign is open until midnight on 31 March.