Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton, England, the kind of place that Music Venue Trust is trying to protect, closed last year. (Courtesy MVT)

Group continues fight to keep small U.K. venues open

Music Venue Trust celebrated its first five years as a charity working to protect, secure and improve the U.K.’s grassroots music venues.

An event titled 5/50/500 took place Tuesday, hosted by long-term MVT supporter Ticketmaster. It brought together companies and organizations that support MVT’s work, as well as venue representatives and artists.

The event title represents 5 years of MVT, as well as 50 patrons and 500 venues that have joined the Music Venues Alliance, on whose behalf MVT works.

In the last few months, membership of the Music Venues Alliance has grown to 547 venues. The latest patrons to join are musician Bernard Butler and broadcasters Abbie McCarthy and Sarah Gosling.

Last year, MVT released a statement of intent to create a pipeline investment fund to support activity in the grassroots sector of the music industry. UK organizations that have signed the statement of intent include the Association of Festival Organisers, Association of Independent Festivals, Attitude Is Everything, Concert Promoters Association, Entertainment Agents Association, Featured Artists Coalition, Music Industry Association, Music Managers Forum, Musicians’ Union, National Arenas Association, Productions Services Association and UK Live Music.

Another success for the charity was the launch of Arts Council England’s Supporting Grassroots Live Music grant funding plan in May, which made $1.8 million available to the grassroots music sector in the UK between May 13 and March 30, 2020. Grants range from a little more than $1,000 to more than $50,000.

Bernard Butler said in a statement that he was honored to be a patron of the Music Venue Trust, adding, “Every musician’s primal instinct is to perform, and those baby steps require a nurturing environment in which to blossom. Music venues around the world from the local church hall to the stadium play an invaluable role in the creative process, allowing an artist’s confidence, technique and craft to flourish.”

“We sigh at the loss of a venue not through nostalgia or sentimentality, but for the missed opportunities for ourselves as well as future generations,” he said.

Abbie McCarthy, from BBC Music Introducing in Kent, England, said in the statement: “One of my favourite things to do is go to a gig — that amazing, excitable atmosphere, getting to hear the songs you’re obsessed with performed live, feeling a connection in that moment with your favourite artists, sometimes discovering exciting new acts and meeting fellow music fans. It’s such a buzz and that’s why since I went to my first gig aged 12. There’s not a week that goes by where I’m not at a live show.”

McCarthy launched Good Karma Club, a monthly showcase at the Sebright Arms in London, several years ago to give new artists a platform to develop and learn their craft. She added: “Without one of my favourite local venues, the Tunbridge Wells Forum, the likes of Slaves, Everything Everything and Frank Turner would not have grown to be some of the best live performers on the planet.”

Sarah Gosling of BBC Music Introducing in Devon and Cornwall, England, said in a statement: “The first piece of music journalism I ever wrote focused on the importance of small town venues supporting new music, and it’s been the central core of every piece of broadcasting I’ve done since then.

“Without them I wouldn’t have the incredible job I do today, the unsigned musicians I work with would be left without audiences to hone their craft with, communities would lose their beating, jumping, dancing heart, and the world would lose its technicolour.”