Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has thrown his support behind the Music Venue Trust’s campaign to save Britain’s live venues by backing the creation of a new ‘music venues taskforce’ for the capital.
The taskforce, chaired by the Music Venue Trust and backed by the Musicians’ Union and UK Music, will “look at steps the city can take to protect and secure its vital network of live music venues”.
Since its founding in January 2014, the Music Venue Trust has spearheaded a grassroots campaign which seeks to protect and preserve the UK’s under-threat live music network, especially its smaller venues (the ‘toilet circuit’). Its campaign was featured prominently in PSNEurope‘s review of 2014 (Review of 2014: Part 6 – Live music in the toilet), which followed singer-songwriter Frank Turner’s Music Venue Trust-backed petition urging culture secretary Sajid Javid to adopt the ‘agent-of-change principle’ (see Frank Turner says Britain’s live music circuit is “facing a meltdown”) – meaning that the person or business responsible for any change in the area surrounding a music venue would be compelled to responsibility for managing the impact (for example, housing developers paying for the soundproofing of venues in order to prevent noise complaints).
A number of iconic central London music venues have been forced to close in recent years, including the 12 Bar Club (see 12 Bar Club to close), Madame Jojo’s, the Astoria, Sin, Metro and the Bath House. The world-famous Ministry of Sound nightclub in Elephant and Castle only narrowly escaped closure after agreeing to install major new noise reduction equipment (see Ministry of Sound saved from closure threat).
“For the last six or seven years, I’ve been making an impassioned speech in which I point out how London has more live music venues than any other city on Earth,” Johnson says in a new video. “It’s in those venues, those teeming wombs of London talent, that, of course, we hope to produce not just fantastic music now but the next Rolling Stones, the next Adele, the next Ed Sheeran or Sam Smith.
“They’re of huge economic importance – not just cultural importance – to our city, and that’s why it’s so worrying that we’re seeing the pressure from property prices, from development, take away so many of those live venues across town. That’s why we’ve set up the live music venue task force and why their work is so important. Let’s keep our live music venues live in London.”
Read the Music Venue Trust’s vision for a sustainable UK live music scene in its open letter to the British government.