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Cross-party MSPs voice support for adding £1 tax to arena and stadium tours to raise money for struggling grassroots music venues.

The Hydro in Glasgow is one of Scotland's largest performance venues

jewhyte via iStock

Scotland’s Culture Secretary Angus Robertson has said a proposal to add £1 onto stadium and arena concert tickets to put towards a fund for grassroots music venues is worth “further consideration”.

The initiative, developed by music charity Music Venue Trust (MVT), would apply to tickets for stadium and arena tours with capacities over 5,000, with proceeds going to venues in need through MVT’s Pipeline Investment Fund.

Speaking during a parliamentary session at Holyrood earlier this month, Robertson said it was “absolutely right to highlight that new thinking” was needed for arts funding.


“We have gone through a pivot point during the pandemic; there has been a change in social behaviours and there has been extreme distress in the arts and cultural sector,” the Scottish National Party politician said.

“So yes, one needs to look with great seriousness at the potential for additional and parallel funding streams, and that's why I think this is one proposal that is worthy of further consideration, and it's something that should be looked at more closely.”

Robertson was responding to questioning from a Green Party Member of Scottish Parliament (MSP) Mark Ruskell, who said the charge could be “a significant funding stream” for grassroots venues.

Ruskell added: “The Music Venue Trust estimates that a one pound levy on tickets for shows at the two big arenas in Scotland would generate a million pounds a year.”

The proposal has since received support from Scotland’s Shadow Culture Secretary, Donald Cameron, who told the Scottish Sun he was “confident this could be done in a fair and consensual manner, with everyone on board working towards the same objective”.

“Everyone can see the extraordinary amount of money raked in by large-scale concerts featuring major artists. Most would accept that it’s right a small slice of this can go back into grassroots music,” the Conservative MSP said.

“For the majority of people who make their living in the arts, life can be tough, with income often low and uncertain. It’s a world away from arena concerts, and I would welcome some kind of Scottish Government approach which sought to close that gap.”

MVT ‘advocating’ for compulsory uptake

MVT Chief Executive Mark Davyd recently told the Times the music charity is “actively advocating” for Holyrood to back the levy across Scotland.

“The most successful events in our industry have a duty and responsibility to contribute to the costs of developing and nurturing talent. A levy on each ticket would be an effective mechanism to achieve that outcome,” Davyd said.

“Right now, a disproportionately high number of venues in Scotland are in our crisis service receiving support.”

Earlier this year, venue management company ASM Global said it would match funds raised by band Enter Shikari after they announced they would donate £1 from every ticket sold to their OVO Arena Wembley show in February 2024.

Shortly after, MVT Chief Executive Mark Davyd lobbied for Coldplay to donate £1 from each of their future arena and stadium tours to support grassroots music infrastructure and artists.

The music charity recently called upon the UK government and its opposition parties to make the ticket levy compulsory.

After the closure of a renowned music venue in Bath earlier this month, Davyd said grassroots music venues are being “badly let down by those who profit from their efforts”.

He added: “Unless it gets serious about its responsibilities to encourage, nurture and develop the grassroots live sector the music industry as a whole will face a catastrophic failure of artist development."

Research conducted by MVT in September found grassroots music venues were in ‘full blown crisis’, with 125 venues lost in the first eight months of the year.

Similar ideas to MVT’s ticket levy already exist in other countries, including France, where major live music events are required to pay 3.5% of each ticket sale to a fund supporting various projects, including grants for grassroots venues.