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Books Launched to Help Create and Sustain Grassroots Music Venues

Posted by Andy Lenthall on

Music Venue Trust has been working for some time on resources which bring together 5 years of learning, networking and good practice across the grassroots music venue sector. We wanted to help aspiring venue managers open new venues but also realised that reviewing working practices in existing venues or asking experienced venues to look again at the way they run could be beneficial. Therefore, we have created a pair of books: How to Open a Grassroots Music Venue and How to Run a Grassroots Music Venue. Some of the chapters are very similar and the Guidance section is the same in each book, but the tone and emphasis of the two books differs and there are fantastic interviews and photos in both. We see them as a pair but which you might read depends on who you are and what your interest is. We hope you find one or both of them useful.

Music Venue Trust, the charity which protects, secures and improves Grassroots Music Venues, has launched two open source books to offer practical advice to the sector. In partnership with The Mayor of London and Ticketmaster, MVT commissioned writer David Pollock and photographer Jannica Honey to bring together 2 fully illustrated manuals: How to Open a Grassroots Music Venue and How to Run a Grassroots Music Venue. These books are available as downloadable PDFs from both the MVT website (musicvenuetrust.com) and from the Mayor of London’s website.

Each book contains 15 chapters of information, gathered from the experience of our venues network and the past 5 years of MVT’s work. Areas covered include vital topics such as licensing, company structure, what facilities need to be provided and ideas for diversifying what they offer. This guidance is supported by interviews with some of the people who run the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues, to bring the text further to life and share stories of successes as well as some cautionary tales. A comprehensive Guidance section at the back of the books is complemented by cross-referencing with online resources on the MVT website (musicvenuetrust.com/resources) to complete the package. These online resources will be regularly updated to keep the manuals relevant.

To explain why creating these books was important Mark Davyd, CEO, Music Venue Trust said: “When I was 17, I put on my first gig and over the next ten years I met lots of other like-minded people who wanted to do the same. Eventually, after five years of trying, we got together and opened our own venue. Nobody ever gave us advice, and we must have made every mistake possible. Most people I know in the grassroots music sector have a similar story, which is why we wanted to publish these guides. We want these books to inspire people to join us and open their own venues and the message is simple: you can build a stage the band doesn’t fall through, you can get a licence that doesn’t prevent you from opening on a Wednesday, and you can avoid having to rebuild the venue from scratch, only this time with enough doors”.

Amy Lamé - Night Czar, Mayor of London added: “London’s diverse music scene is driven by its grassroots music venues. They provide a vital platform for musicians to hone their craft, play an important part of our musical heritage and help maintain London’s position as a global culture capital. There’s no doubt that challenges exist with rising rents and business rates, but the Mayor and I are committed to doing everything we can to protect these vital cultural assets. I’m delighted that we have partnered with MVT in their work and have no doubt these books will become the go-to-guides for venue owners for years to come.”

Andrew Parsons, Managing Director of Ticketmaster UK, said: “Developing the next generation of talent is hugely important to us, grassroots music venues are an essential part of an artist’s career and a vital cog in the music industry machine. We have worked with MVT since 2015 and know the struggles that these venues face. These guides are another important step to keep music playing in grassroots venues across the UK.”

MVT patron Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari said: “Grassroots Music Venues are vital spaces for musicians, music fans and communities in general. It’s been a tough time for venues up and down the country over the past few years and there’s been no government support. It’s great that MVT has launched these new books, sharing the knowledge and experience of those who run the venues that are surviving and shining a spotlight on the touring circuit. I think it could help encourage the opening of new venues and support networks.”

 A limited print run of How to Open a Grassroots Music Venue and How to Run a Grassroots Music Venue has been produced but the books are available to all in PDF format. Music Venue Trust is looking into the possibility of further development of these guides. If you are interested in possible involvement, please contact us at info@musicvenuetrust.com

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