Ed Sheeran-backed Music Venue Trust support UK music venues


The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has raised £2.2m to buy and save grassroots music venues (GMVs) across the UK. The campaign, called #OwnOurVenues, was launched in response to the closure of 35% of grassroots music venues over the past 20 years. The MVT’s plan is to create a National Trust for GMVs, and it aims to put ownership of music venues in the hands of people who love live music.

Campaign details

The campaign aimed to raise £2.5m and has gained the support of Ed Sheeran, Frank Turner, Ben Lovett, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music, Amazon Music, and Arts Council England, which granted £500,000 to the project. The MVT represents almost 1,000 UK venues, and 93% of GMVs are tenants, with only an average of 18 months left on their leases. Short leases make raising funds for facility improvement and securing government support difficult.

Nine venues are the initial focus

The MVT has identified nine venues, all outside London, whose landlords are prepared to sell their freehold to the charity. They include The Ferret in Preston, The Snug in Atherton, Le Pub in Newport, The Glad Cafe in Glasgow, and The Hairy Dog in Derby.

Impact of GMVs

GMVs are vital to the UK’s music and cultural heritage, and they are the “research and development labs” of the UK’s music industry, which puts £5.8bn per annum into the UK economy, said Chris Sherrington, a regional coordinator for the MVT. They have played a crucial role in the development of British music over the past 40 years by nurturing local talent and providing a platform for artists to build their careers and develop their music and performance skills, said Steve Lamacq, a patron of the MVT.

Plans for the future

The MVT plans to buy nine venues, then 90, then 900, with the goal of saving as many GMVs, which are vital to the country’s cultural and community heritage, as possible. The venues are at the heart of their communities, working with local education providers and supporting local and emerging talent as well as being part of the national touring circuit, said Hannah White, a musician, songwriter, and venue owner.