An organisation to prevent some of the UK’s most important live music venues from disappearing is making significant strides to achieve its goal after negotiating a major concession with legislators. The Music Venues Trust has leveraged the existing Community Right to Bid legislation to back its campaign to save as many grass-roots venues as possible, through a three-phase programme.
“The Right to Buy law was introduced to protect the likes of rural pubs and community post offices, but we’ve persuaded government to extend that criteria to live music venues,” explains the Trust’s Mark Davyd. “That’s phase one – once a premises gets Community Right To Bid status, it cannot be sold without the community being consulted and given the chance to put together an equivalent bid to buy.”
Davyd, who owns the Tunbridge Wells Forum, took action after seeing numerous similar venues being redeveloped into housing or other business accommodation.
“The common thing that all smaller venues share is that the bricks and mortar value of the building now outweighs the value of the business that operates there,” he states. “So when the owners are approached by developers, they are obliged to take such offers seriously. And with no young people coming through – yet – who are eager to take over these live music clubs, we are losing many of them forever.”
Phase two will involve compiling a list of clubs that music fans want to see on the protected list. “We’re expecting anywhere between 15 and 70 venues to be nominated – but it could well be 100,” Davyd continues.
“Phase three willbe the campaign to raise funds so the bid to buy can be exercised,” Davyd says.“The final goal is to buy the buildings and their freehold, place them in the Music Venues Trust and lease them back to their management so that they can continue to host live music and are secured permanently for the local community.”