Music Venue Trust launches initiative to protect small UK venues

Own Our Venues logo
(Image credit: Music Venue Trust)

The Music Venue Trust, the charity that supports grassroots venues and has campaigned to sustain them through the impacts of Covid-19 and beyond, have set up a new initiative to safeguard the future of small UK venues.

Launching what they're calling a 'National Trust of Music Venues', the charity has kicked off the Own Our Venues campaign, in which fans can help to purchase the freehold of grassroots music venue properties, thus ensuring that the buildings are kept for their intended purpose and not sold to property developers.

"Music fans and ethical investors can buy community shares in Music Venue Properties from £200 to £100,000 and receive 3% APR on their investment," say the Trust. "It's a better rate than a savings bank and we all get Save Our Venues because we Own Our Venues."

The nine venues selected to be part of the pilot scheme are The Ferret in Preston, The Snug in Atherton, Le Pub in Newport, The Glad Café in Glasgow, The Hairy Dog in  Derby, Sunbird in Darwen, The Polar Bearin Hull, The Palladium in Bideford, and the Bunkhouse in Swansea. 

This Trust hopes to raise £3.5m with a view to purchasing the venues before the end of 2022, and will then look at identifying and securing further freeholds as and when they become available. At the time of writing, the campaign has raised close to quarter of a million pounds. 

“This is the most ambitious initiative Music Venue Trust has ever undertaken." says Founder andCEO Mark Davyd. "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."

The Trust's patrons include Paul McCartney, Elbow, Frank Turner, Enter Shakiri, Nova Twins, Steven Wilson, Skindred and Bob Vylan.  

The Own Our Venues Crowdfunder Campaign is open now.

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.