In the United Kingdom, Music Venue Trust has launched the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, giving music supporters across the country a new opportunity to invest in the spaces they love. The campaign, which has garnered support from figures like Ed Sheeran and Sony Music, offers a prime example of how community investment can serve to rescue and maintain vital community assets.
To better understand Music Venue Trust and the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, I spoke with Matt Ottridge, the Music Venue Trust Ownership Coordinator.
The challenge faced by grassroots music venues
Over the last twenty years, many independent music venues in the United Kingdom have shut down. Mark Davyd, Founder of Music Venue Trust, says the main reason for closure is that people who run the independent music venues do not own their premises, and the landlords who do own them don’t care about the impact the venue is delivering. Music venues are often at the mercy of commercial landlords and rising rents, and this issue of ownership is underscored by other challenges such as noise complaints and chronic underinvestment.
According to Music Venue Trust, 93% of grassroots music venues are tenants with an average lease of 18 months. This prevents venues fully investing in their spaces because there is uncertainty about how long they will be able to stay put.
The ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign
Since 2014, Music Venue Trust has advocated for the protection, security, and improvement of UK grassroots music venues for the benefit of venues, communities, and artists. They provide free legal advice, a network for music venues to connect and collaborate, and a multitude of online resources to guide music venue operators. The ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign is one of the organization’s recent initiatives.
The aim of the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign is to change the ownership model of grassroots music venues. Instead of private landlords owning the spaces and leasing them to music venue operators, Music Venue Trust has set up a community benefit organization, Music Venue Properties, that will purchase the spaces and rent them back to current operators. The value to independent music venues? First and foremost, a landlord who understands their sector. Matt mentions that Music Venue Properties will work with operators, giving them greater assurance over the length of their lease, reduce rents, make contributions to insurance and repairs, help with accessing grants, and analyze their operational models. Music venue operators will develop the security and confidence they need to create and maintain incredible venues that are pillars of their communities.
Individuals and organizations can purchase community shares issued by Music Venue Properties for as little as £200 and up to £100,000. This investment will fund the purchase of an initial nine music venue properties. In exchange, investors receive a 3% annual return on their investment, become a co-owner of the society and its assets, and play a critical role in saving the independent music venues they love!
Community financing has saved local pubs, shops, and post offices, amongst other enterprises, and now it’s time for the model to be applied to music venues, too. For more information on the ‘Own Our Venues’ campaign, visit www.musicvenueproperties.com.
About this Blog Series
Hi, my name is Jasleen Bahia, and I was once an Intern at Tapestry Community Capital. I am now completing my degree in business with a focus on social finance, and I’m currently doing a semester abroad in Europe. While here, I am Tapestry’s Ambassador to the UK. This blog series documents my adventure abroad learning about the social finance ecosystem in the UK and connecting it to our growing community investment marketplace in Canada. I am eager to find out what we can learn, replicate and share!