Ed Sheeran has thrown his weight behind the campaign by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) to make a radical intervention into the ownership of the UK’s grassroots music venues.
Own Our Venues was launched by the Music Venue Trust in June. It is the first step in a long-term campaign to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership.
The Own Our Venues concept is built on the Community Share model that has been successful in saving and protecting local pubs, post offices and even sports grounds. MVT is seeking to raise £3.5 million in initial investments to acquire nine venues.
MVT has identified the nine venues for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept. Further venue freeholds will then be identified and secured as and when they become available.
On completion of purchase the venues will be offered an immediate rent reduction and a contribution to building repairs and insurance, while also guaranteeing long-term security and market resistant rents. MVT aims to complete the purchase of the first nine music venues under this new model by the end of December 2022.
Since June, hundreds of individuals and companies have already pledged their support either through direct investment in the project via a new investment platform with trusted ethical investment specialists Ethex, or via its dedicated Crowdfunder campaign.
Given the backdrop of recent significant national events, including the cost of living and energy crisis, which has required MVT’s resources be refocused in other areas, a decision has been taken to extend the initial fundraising phase of the Own Our Venues campaign until December 31, 2022.
Ed Sheeran, who is a longstanding supporter of grassroots music venues, said: “Own Our Venues is an initiative I’m really passionate about getting behind. Small, independent venues are so, so important to the music community, and I’ve played some of my favourite gigs of my career in these rooms. We’ve got to do all we can to protect these beautiful venues that we’ve all come to love for years to come.”
Mark Davyd, CEO and Founder of MVT, added: “We are blown away by the support already for Own Our Venues. This is a campaign that is really resonating with music fans who understand exactly how important it is to keep access to live music in our communities, our towns and cities right across the UK. With the Own Our Venues project gathering steam, we are incredibly pleased to get Ed’s support for this initiative – he knows this sector incredibly well and understands how important it is.”
Matt Otridge, ownership coordinator for Music Venue Trust, said: “We have extended the deadline for investors to come on board until 31 December 2022 to give everyone a chance to get behind this project and make it a reality. We have had an incredible response to this initiative right across the music industry and the music community, and we can’t wait to announce some very substantial investments from key stakeholders shortly.”
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