Music Venue Trust: Live performances and audience numbers still lower than pre-pandemic levels

Music Venue Trust: Live performances and audience numbers still lower than pre-pandemic levels

Music Venue Trust has released its 2022 annual report, shining a light on how the grassroots sector is struggling to return to its pre-pandemic levels. 

The MVT report, a survey carried out by the Music Venue Alliance’s 960 members, found that the number of performances at UK grassroots music venues in 2022 was 16.7% lower than in 2019, due to the significant cutbacks that venues have had to make post-pandemic. 

This decrease meant that the average number of events staged per week in individual venues fell from 4.2 in 2019 to 3.5 last year, with only 1.97 of those identified as ticketed music shows. 

The report also found that the average capacity used in each independent UK venue was 40%, down 11 percentage points from 2019. 

The total income from those events was over £500m but venues reported an average profit margin of just 0.2%, resulting in them subsidising live music performances by around £79m last year.

MVT has now called on the government and wider music industry to support the grassroots sector, which is “past the tipping point”.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said: “Obviously we are pleased to highlight the fact that grassroots music venues contribute over half a billion pounds to the UK economy and to emphasise their enormous impact on the cultural life of our country; but it is also necessary to reiterate the precarious financial position that much of the sector still finds themselves in – the current economics no longer stack up.”

Davyd made an urgent call for reductions in VAT and business rates, highlighting the pressures they put on independent venues.

“We need urgent action from the government on all these factors as well as a full review of VAT on ticket sales,” he said. “In short, we need a coherent long term economic plan that recognises the importance of what our members do and gives them a chance to keep nurturing up-and-coming artists and contributing to their local communities.”

MVT has outlined plans to ensure all new arenas opening in the UK will contribute a percentage of every ticket sold into the grassroots music ecosystem. Co-op Live Arena, due to open in Manchester later this year, has pledged to commit to this initiative. 

The MVT CEO said: “The threat is real: we need more from the music industry and we need it now, otherwise what is currently a crisis will soon become a terminal decline for venues, their staff, artists and audiences.”

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