Insights Grassroots Music Venues: Culture, Media and Sport Committee publishes report


The Culture, Media and Sport Committee has called on the Government to introduce a new levy on arena and stadium tickets alongside a targeted, temporary cut in VAT in order to support grassroots music venues.

In its report, the Committee states that “grassroots live music venues…are now facing a crisis of soaring costs and closures”, affecting artists, promoters, and festivals, among others. Whilst the Committee accepts that a compulsory levy on arena and stadium tickets would be the ideal mechanism to address this crisis, it has concluded that the urgency of the situation requires a more pragmatic, immediate response. Therefore, it argues for the creation of a voluntary levy on arena and stadium tickets to support grassroots music venues, artists, and promoters as soon as possible and no later than September 2024. If a voluntary levy cannot be established by then, or if it is introduced but a review (to be conducted within 12 months of its introduction) concludes that the levy is not collecting sufficient income, the Committee recommends that the Government moves to introduce a statutory levy “at the earliest possible opportunity”.

The Committee has also called for a “targeted and temporary cut” to VAT on tickets for grassroots music venues, based on the capacity of venues, and recommends that the Treasury and DCMS model options for such a cut. It also recommends that the Government and Arts Council work to reduce the administrative burden of grassroots music venues applying for public funding, and ensure that “any future fiscal policy decisions relating to grassroots music venues gives venues certainty and long-term security” so as to avoid a sudden shock to the sector.

Finally, the Committee expresses concern that it is not just grassroots music venues that are in crisis, but that there is a crisis affecting “an entire ecosystem of professionals, many of whom are under extraordinary strain to remain viable in the current climate”. As a result, it has recommended that there be a comprehensive fan-led review of live and electronic music as a matter of urgency, drawing inspiration from the Fan-Led Review of Football Governance (which we discussed here).

Commenting on the publication of the report, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Dame Caroline Dineage, said:

“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.”

To read the report in full, click here.