UK Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee has released its Live Music Inquiry report today.
According to Music Venue Trust, the cross party government report reflects the standpoint that grassroots music venues do matter, and provides support for Music Venue Trust’s mission to save grassroots venues.
The DCMS Report recommendations provide a clear path for key stakeholders, the government, the cultural sector, the music industry, to act together with Music Venue Trust to deliver a solution to the grassroots venues crisis.
The DCMS states they will be working with their colleagues at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, UK Music, Arts Council England, Cyngor Celfyddydau Cymru | Arts Council of Wales, Creative Scotland, and Arts Council of Northern Ireland for the cause.
MP Damian Collins, chair of the DCMs committee, commented: “Urgent action is needed if the live music industry is to continue to make a significant contribution to both the economy and cultural life of the country. We also look to the music industry to make sure that enough of the big money generated at the top finds its way down to grassroots level to support emerging talent. It happens with sport, why not music?”
Summary of the recommendations:
1. The closure of music venues presents a significant and urgent challenge to the UK’s music industry. The government has not acted promptly enough to prevent these closures, which have been happening at a rate unprecedented in other cultural sectors for more than 10 years. The full impact of these closures may not be felt immediately; however, there is a real threat that without access to live performance spaces, the next generation of musicians will struggle to maintain the UK’s position at the forefront of the industry. (Paragraph 65)
2. Business rate rises and applying for associated reliefs place a financial and administrative burden on already over-stretched grassroots music venues and independent festivals. The government should immediately review the impact of recent business rates changes on the live music sector and introduce new, or extend existing, relief schemes, such as those for pubs or small retail properties, to lessen the burden of business rates on music venues. (Paragraph 71)
3. We recommend that in the next legislative session the government appoints a statutory consultative body to promote the protection of music venues, provide advice to local authorities on relevant planning applications and monitor how ‘agent of change’ is applied in practice around the country. (Paragraph 76)
4. The government is expected to produce post-legislative memorandums within three to five years of legislation gaining Royal Assent; however, we are yet to receive such a memorandum for the Live Music Act 2012. The government needs to conduct thorough scrutiny of the impact of the Act this year. We request that the government supplies us with a full post-legislative memorandum for the Live Music Act 2012 before the end of this parliamentary session. We believe that the government should amend the Act to extend its provisions to venues with a capacity over 500 and beyond 11pm and ask for the memorandum to consider these proposals and set out the government’s intentions for them. We also ask the government to extend the creative industries tax relief to support other forms of music production, in addition to that already given for orchestral performances. (Paragraph 85)
5. It is unsurprising that the live music sector has a history of under-engagement with government and funding bodies, given the staffing constraints many venues face and the low rates of support for grassroots venues in Arts Council England’s flagship funding programme. Nonetheless, we recognise that the current imbalance in funding is not sustainable and welcome ACE’s commitment to engage with music venues and learn from its experiences with other sectors. We ask that in its next ten-year strategy, the Arts Council makes explicit how it plans to redress the balance in funding for grassroots venues and contemporary music, with a view to securing the infrastructure and leadership that will enable them to maximise business opportunities. (Paragraph 91)
6. Structural problems within the music industry limit artists’ ability to earn a sustainable income, and that in turn risks excluding sections of society from a career in music. The industry needs to ensure a greater proportion of its revenues is channelled into supporting artists at the early stages of their careers. We recommend that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and UK Music convene a taskforce this year comprised of musicians’ representatives and corporate stakeholders to explore how the industry may be supported and incentivised to invest more effectively in supporting grassroots talent. (Paragraph 113)
MPs also advised the public not to buy or sell tickets through platforms such as Viagogo.