Live Music Exchange Blog

Introduction to the Music Venue Trust – Mark Davyd


Today’s post introduces the Music Venue Trust, set up at the start of the year. Barely a month goes by without news of a long-established venue running into difficulties or being forced to close and the Trust aims to use existing community legislation to protect the smaller independent venue sector – the so called ‘toilet circuit’ – that has been struggling. Here, they introduce their work, and their latest campaign, centred on Noise Abatement regulation.

The Music Venue Trust was formed in January of this year to look at a number of issues facing small to medium sized venues. These venues are the breeding ground of UK music, and have faced a succession of challenges in recent years.

“We started the Trust because there were two or three things happening which, put together, were resulting in a tidal wave of potential and actual closures,” says Trust founder and CEO Mark Davyd. “Rising property values, planning and noise abatement legislation, and rising costs in a climate of falling attendances are all significant challenges to keeping this network alive. Unlike more recognised cultural venues such as arts centres and theatres, the majority of independent music venues operate in isolation with little support from local or national grant-giving bodies or the networks they provide. There have been a number of attempts over the years to create a representative body for these independent venues, and those have met with varying success. We felt the time was right to unite these venues around specific national issues which they all share, whilst supporting existing informal, regional and local networks. We think the independence and individualism of these venues is a key part of their appeal and success, but it became clear that government and the industry needed to hear about certain issues in a much more forceful way”.

The Trust’s first campaign was to reach out to audiences across the country and seek to work with them to place venues on the Register of Community Assets. This requires someone who feels passionate about their local venue to volunteer to be a Venue Champion and lead the process of recruiting a minimum of 20 other local people to sign the nomination form. An Asset of Community Value is “a building or land used to further the social wellbeing in particular, though not exclusively, the cultural, recreational or sporting interests of the local community” so the Trust believes that the action of nominating an independent music venue will challenge current perceptions of that building and what goes on there. The aim is to bring a large number of music venues into the cultural sector and provoke a rethink by local authorities and the arts sector about where they sit within the cultural fabric of the UK, potentially opening up funding, but also limiting the ability of developers to close down venues without consulting with local communities.

The second campaign launched on 28 May, and is centred around a national petition to HM Government that calls for an urgent and thorough review of Noise Abatement legislation. The petition attracted over 10,000 signatures in the first six days of being live, and has lit up social media with a range of interactive campaigns centred around #SaveLiveVenuesUK.

“Our message is simple and all our petition is really demanding is that a bit of common sense be allowed to prevail. The Music Venue Trust believes that venues should be good neighbours, engaging with their local communities and addressing concerns around noise and anti-social behaviour. But we believe that being a good neighbour is a reciprocal process, and that people who choose to live near to community spaces are accepting the responsibility to behave as a good neighbour to their adjoining music venue, church or community space; anywhere it is inevitable and should be acceptable that noise will exist. We believe this is a common sense approach – if you hate sport, why move next to a football pitch? If you hate music, why move next to a live music venue?”

Patrons of the trust include musicians from all aspects of the live music scene, including established stalwarts such as Andy Dunlop of Travis and David Gedge of the Wedding Present, Jeremy Pritchard of The Times Breakthrough Artist winners Everything Everything and Kerrang Award winners Enter Shikari, alongside rising stars such as Moya and Savages. Musicians are joined by cross party parliamentary political support, MPs Mike Weatherley (Conservative, Hove) and Kerry McCarthy (Labour, Bristol) and Lord Tim Clement Jones (Lib Dem), and by senior music industry figures such Barry Dickins (ITB) Geoff Meale (The Agency), Paul Buck (Coda) and Scott Thomas (XRay).

The Trust’s petition has reached 10,000 signatures and must now receive a formal response from the Department of the Environment. The Trust is continuing to push for more signatures to reach the goal of 100,000, when it will be called for debate in the House of Commons. You can view and sign the petition here:


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