This week Music Venue Trust celebrates its first 5 years as the charity which works to protect, secure and improve the UK’s grassroots music venues. An event, titled 5/50/500 took place on 18 June, hosted by long-term MVT supporters Ticketmaster, and brought together companies and organisations which support MVT’s work, as well as venue representatives and artists. When the celebration was conceived it was to mark 5 years, 50 patrons and 500 venues which have joined the Music Venues Alliance, on whose behalf MVT works. In the last few months, particularly since the announcement of the first commitments to funding for venues from the Pipeline Investment Fund initiative and the launch of Arts Council England’s Supporting Grassroots Live Music grant funding scheme, membership of the Music Venues Alliance has grown to 547 venues and we have welcomed three new patrons: musician Bernard Butler and broadcasters Abbie McCarthy and Sarah Gosling.
Bernard Butler said: “I am honoured to be a Patron of the Music Venue Trust. Every musician’s primal instinct is to perform, and those baby steps require a nurturing environment in which to blossom. Music venues around the world from the local church hall to the stadium play an invaluable role in the creative process, allowing an artist’s confidence, technique and craft to flourish. But it does not stop there. Every artist will return to venues of size and location continually throughout their lives, renewing bonds with loyal fans as well as forging new creative avenues. Many of us return with great affection to stages we have trodden many times before, often encountering the same dedicated promoters and sound engineers, often combined into several passionate roles. We sigh at the loss of a venue not through nostalgia or sentimentality, but for the missed opportunities for ourselves as well as future generations. Protecting the network of grassroots venues is to secure livelihoods, access to the arts and to art itself.” .
Abbie McCarthy, from BBC Music Introducing, Kent said: “One of my favourite things to do is go to a gig – that amazing, excitable atmosphere, getting to hear the songs you’re obsessed with performed live, feeling a connection in that moment with your favourite artists, sometimes discovering exciting new acts and meeting fellow music fans. It’s such a buzz and that’s why since I went to my first gig aged 12, there’s not a week that goes by where I’m not at a live show.
Many of the best shows I’ve been to have been in tiny independent venues around the country. It’s the most special feeling when you’re watching an act with only a handful of other people & you can tell they’re going to go on to huge things, you know the magic memory of that intimate gig will stay with you forever. I started my Good Karma Club night to give new artists a platform to develop & learn their craft and we’ve had some incredible performances over the last few years. Without one of my favourite local venues, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, the likes of Slaves, Everything Everything & Frank Turner would not have grown to be some of the best live performers on the planet. Socially, culturally, creatively, venues are crucial, we must protect them at all costs!”
Sarah Gosling, of BBC Music Introducing, Devon & Cornwall said: “Grassroots venues are where I've solidified friendships, developed my passion for discovering soul-shakingly great new music, and had some of the most memorable and defining experiences of my life. The first piece of music journalism I ever wrote focused on the importance of small town venues supporting new music, and it's been the central core of every piece of broadcasting I've done since then. Without them I wouldn't have the incredible job I do today, the unsigned musicians I work with would be left without audiences to hone their craft with, communities would lose their beating, jumping, dancing heart, and the world would lose its technicolour. Yet despite this the most pivotal venues of my youth - and the early stages for all my favourite mid-size bands - are now closed. Only a handful remain in the South West, and they can't keep up with the demands for stage time made of them from musicians across the entire artistic spectrum. Like plants without room to grow, they become stunted, left with nowhere to develop and unfurl the leaves they didn't even know they had. We need a broad spread of music venues catering to all tastes, just as is commonplace with theatres and galleries. The music industry can't be expected to fend for itself any longer, and creative lives can't survive without these venues. That's why I'm incredibly proud to be a small cog working to protect them as part of the Music Venue Trust.”