The new Music Venue Properties initiative aims to help grassroots music venues secure their long-term futures
The Music Venue Trust (MVT) , a charity dedicated to the preservation of the UK’s grassroots music venues (GMVs), has announced an ambitious new plan to buy GMV freeholds, with ethical investors and music fans able to contribute to the effort by purchasing Community Shares.
MVT research shows that around 35% of GMV have closed in the last 20 years, and the vast majority of those which survive are tenants with less than 18 months lease time remaining. Pressures such as gentrification and noise complaints from homes newly built around music venues, mean that many GMVs face imminent closure, and the MVT has identified the best way to protect some of them is to buy the buildings’ freehold.
To this end, the Trust has established a Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) named Music Venue Properties (MVP), to purchase the freehold of GMV properties. Unlike a Charity, a CCBS can raise money via Community Shares and by purchasing these shares music fans and ethical investors will help raise funds whilst also receiving a 3% APR return on their investment.
MVP has identified nine venues for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept. Six venues are in England, one in Scotland and two are in Wales. With an initial target of £3.5m to purchase these venues the first of these Community Share Offers launched on May 23rd with a view of purchasing these nine venues before the end of 2022.
The Ferret, Preston
The Snug, Atherton
Le Pub, Newport
The Glad Café, Glasgow
The Hairy Dog, Derby
The Polar Bear, Hull
The Palladium, Bideford
Further venues will be identified and secured as and when they become available, and MVP intends to continue raising funds by selling community shares and borrowing against the freeholds purchased. All rental income subsequently received from the purchase of venues will be reinvested towards the expansion of the portfolio. On completion of purchase MVP will offer the majority of current operators an immediate rent reduction and help contribute to building repairs and insurance, while also guaranteeing long term security and market resistant rents.
Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust said: “This is the most ambitious initiative Music Venue Trust has ever undertaken. The long-term security and prosperity of grassroots music venues depends almost entirely on one thing – ownership. Too many have been at the mercy of some commercial landlords whose motivations revolve primarily around profit. We have lost over a third of our venues in the last 20 years and with over 90% having only 18 months left on their tenancies we are at the cliff edge and could see the decimation of our sector if we don’t do something radical about it. The Music Venue Properties scheme will allow ethical investors and music fans to invest in the future of live music while receiving a healthy return on their money. Our #SaveOurVenues campaign launched during the pandemic raised over £4.1m with more than 80,000 people contributing. We already have the crowd – we just need to ask them to invest from May 23rd and are confident they will.”