Author(s): Adam Behr, Matt Brennan and Martin Cloonan
Publisher: University of Edinburgh/University of Glasgow/AHRC/Live Music Exchange
It aims to contribute to a conversation that looks behind the headline numbers to examine the relationships between venues and provide a qualitative illustration of the live music ecology in three locations – Camden, Glasgow and Leeds.
It also seeks to expand the concept of ‘publicly-funded culture’ to include not simply the subsidy and cultural provision traditionally associated with ‘high culture’ (classical orchestras, opera, etc.) but also provision in areas such as local authority licensing for live entertainment, infrastructure in the form of arenas and other large venues which are majority-owned by city councils, and the role of live music in strategies for urban regeneration.
- The weakest point of the live music ecology at present is the small to medium independent venues.
- Policymakers need to pay more heed to the economic and cultural contribution of smaller venues. Local regimes often focus their attention on major developments whose key beneficiaries are larger businesses.
- Greater harmonisation of regulatory regimes and their implementation across the UK will benefit independent and major operators alike.
- The need for a more ‘joined up’ approach across council services is widely acknowledged but not always fully implemented.
- Competition between cities drives investment in infrastructural projects, yet one of the side effects of such regeneration can be a more difficult environment for venues without the commercial or political wherewithal to adapt quickly to ‘gentrification’.
- It is these smaller spaces that provide both performance and social spaces for rising acts. They feed into an area’s ‘local character’ – its musical history – in a way that makes them difficult to replace. This social aspect of independent venues, along with the relationships that derive from it, is the seed-bed from which a town or city’s musical reputation grows.