Mayor backs rescue plan to save London’s music venues

Mayor of London Boris Johnson has today backed a campaign to halt the drop in the number of music venues in London.

Grassroots music venues have taken a major hit in the past several years, with 35 per cent closing in London alone since 2007.

Now, the Mayor’s Music Venues Taskforce, set up earlier this year and chaired by the Music Venue Trust, has released a report that aims to help save venues around the capital.

Plans outlined include support for the Agent of Change principle, which puts the onus on developers to mitigate potential future conflicts between new developments and long-standing live venues; a night-time economy champion to promote the merits of a sector that in the UK is worth £66bn a year; and a London Music Development Board to take forward an action plan to protect grassroots music venues in the capital.

The Rescue Plan also identifies several factors contributing to venues closing, including rising rents and licensing restrictions; noise complaints by residents; landlords selling venues to developers to turn into housing; and the lack of an oversight body to represent the industry.

The Taskforce’s report suggests that the capital’s music industry, which contributes to the £3.8bn generated by the national music industry, is under threat from venue closures. From 2007 to 2015, the number of spaces programming new artists has dropped from 136 to just 88 today.

“From the Rolling Stones to David Bowie, the Clash to Oasis and Ed Sheeran to Adele, grassroots music venues have played a key role in enabling some of the biggest names in music to develop as artists and to build audiences,” the Mayor said in a statement. “The Music Venues Taskforce report makes it clear that protecting live music venues is crucial to London’s continued position as the music capital of the world.

“This timely report will shape our long-term action plan to safeguard and revive London’s vital network of live music venues, ensuring the future of the capital’s culturally and economically important music scene.”

The Mayor will also publish a Culture and Planning Guide, advising on how planning policy can protect music and cultural venues; City Hall will hold a symposium on 26 October, bringing together developers, planners, architects, local authorities and cultural organisations; and the Mayor’s Office will continue to work with local authorities, developers and the music industry to encourage a pro-cultural approach, particularly in areas with a high volume of venues, including Camden, Denmark Street, Hackney and Soho.

Mark Davyd, who chairs the Music Venues Trust Taskforce, said: “Working with the Mayor’s team of music industry and venue representatives has give us the chance to speak up for grassroots music venues, clearly explaining why they are so important to the future of British music and why London needs to be their flagship.”

For more on the Music Venue Trust, see the November issue of Access, out next week.