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LIVE and Steve Lamacq demand action from chancellor to protect UK grassroots music venues

Steve Lamacq is leading the call for the British government to invest in the UK live music sector ahead of the upcoming Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer will present his Autumn Statement to the UK Parliament on November 22, and LIVE, the body that represents the country’s live music industry, is urging him to announce vital support for grassroots venues.

BBC Radio 6 Music’s Steve Lamacq, who is the Chair of LIVE, said: “You cannot underestimate the importance and value of live music to the UK, both culturally and economically. It is part of the fabric of who we are, producing world class artists and providing enjoyment for millions of people. But this is still a very challenging time for promoters, especially at the grassroots level where venues are increasingly struggling to cope with massive rises in running costs.”

“We need to act now and recognise just how important these venues are, not just as the breeding ground for the next generation of young musicians, but also as proud, creative hubs for the communities they serve across the country. Without targeted financial support and understanding, we run the immediate risk of seeing hundreds of these venues shutting for good, which would be devastating for fans, artists and local economies.”

Steve Lamacq at BBC 6 Music Festival 2022 in Cardiff (Photo by Mike Lewis Photography/Redferns)

LIVE has identified five priorities for potential investments, including removing the barriers for UK artists to tour internationally, protecting fans by updating ticketing regulations, extending financial support to grassroots venues and accelerating the sector’s transition to net zero.

The campaign comes amid a crisis in live music in the UK. In September, the Music Venue Trust revealed to NME that 67 venues had closed up to that point this year, with a further 90 working with the trust’s emergency response team. Roughly half of those were deemed likely to close before the end of the year, meaning that 10 per cent of the country’s independent live music spaces could have disappeared in 2023 alone.

In its last annual report in January, the Music Venue Trust warned that small venues are “going over a cliff”, potentially shutting off the pipeline of future talent, unless urgent government action was forthcoming.

Several artists have also been outspoken about the need for action. In October, Enter Shikari called for solidarity and progress in securing the future of the UK’s grassroots music venues – urging fans and gig spaces to “show the Tory government and the landlord c**ts that our culture of live music is not for sale”.

The band were speaking at an event held by the Music Venue Trust in London, where they received the Outstanding Contribution Award for donating £1 from every ticket sold on their upcoming UK and Ireland arena tour back to the cause of saving grassroots gig spaces.

Live music in its totality raised an all-time high of £5.2 billion for the British economy in 2022, but many are adamant that the money generated by major stadium shows and festivals is not having an effect on preserving the smaller venues.

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