Brixton venues join national call to save grassroots music

Micachu & The Shapes at the Windmill. Photo by Richard Pearmain
Micachu & The Shapes at the Windmill
Photo by Richard Pearmain

Three local venues – Windmill Brixton, The Hootananny and Off The Cuff – are among more than 550 demanding that the government acts to prevent the disappearance of grassroots music.

In an open letter organised by the Music Venues Trust they call for two “simple, quick, effective” measures to save hundreds of venues:

  • An immediate £50m financial support package
  • A reduction in value added tax (VAT) on future ticket sales m– which would bring UK grassroots music venues into line with major international competitors.

The letter says the UK’s grassroots music venues are the foundation on which the country’s £5.2 billion a year music industry has been built for the past 60 years.

“Without our grassroots music venues, there would be no Beatles. No Stones, no Led Zeppelin, no Duran Duran, no Sade, no Oasis, no Skunk Anansie, no Adele, no Ed Sheeran, no Dua Lipa,” the letter says.

“Our grassroots music venues are absolutely essential to the whole UK music industry bouncing back at any time in the future.”

Hootananny on a Saturday night

The sector delivers training, rehearsal spaces, recording opportunities and career development to thousands of young people and are essential to our communities, the venues say.

“Grassroots music venues sit at the very heart of our creative nation.”

They say that last year there were more than 175,000 events in 800 local venues. Since 20 March there have been no events because venues complied with public health guidance.

“We did the right thing. We closed to protect our communities. We engaged with the government task force and we explored every option available to reopen safely and bring live music back.”

The letter says the Music Venue Trust’s simple two-point plan is needed for venues to survive the summer (July, August, September) and to recover in the future.

“We do not need permanent government intervention to exist,” the letter says. “We are not asking to become a permanently subsidised drain on the public purse. We do not need the government to step in and tell us how to run our venues.

“We need government to take two simple steps and leave us to work out how to do the rest.

“We need you to do the right thing.”

The Flowng at Off The Cuff

Other venues on the list – which range from Kirkwall on the Orkney Islands to Exeter, and from Norwich to Belfast – include the Blues Kitchen, the Clapham Grand, Camberwell’s Jazzlive at The Crypt, Le QuecumBar in Battersea, The Stanley Halls in Norwood Junction, Ronnie Scott’s in London’s West End, and the Roundhouse in Camden.