Live music venues across the country are faced with a serious problem says the industry body UK Music. They are writing to the chancellor to ask for help.
Business rates, based on the value of a property, are due to rise on 1 April for the first time in seven years. The government is claiming that around three-quarters of businesses will see their rates stay the same or decrease. But there are still worries among the owners of pubs and small music venues that they could bit hit particularly badly.
“We want to see some financial help, something has to be done about this situation,” UK Music spokesman Anthony Barnes said in an interview with the BBC.
“The whole live music sector is concerned, we have to put some pressure on the chancellor to do something about it.”
The Music Venues Trust and UK Music have both written letters to the chancellor about their worries ahead of the upcoming budget.
They are arguing that two thirds of independently owned venues will much worse off because of the business rate increase.
Geoff Priestley is the general manager of Portsmouth Wedgewood Rooms, which can hold up to 400 people. He had this to say to the BBC “Our rateable value has gone up by 25% this year, which I gather is one of the larger ones around the country that isn’t in London.”
“I’m paying just shy of £15,000 in rates a year.”
“The 25% increase would imply I’ve got 25% increase in rates to come but until that drops through my doorstep I don’t know what the actual figure is – but it certainly won’t be going down.”
One option would be to just put the prices of tickets up but that can’t be the answer and Geoff also doesn’t think that it would work
“Given the type of venue we are – we can only withstand a certain ticket price.
“If you start putting it up people will stop coming because it becomes too expensive.
“I think you’d have to increase every ticket by 50% just to clear the extra income.
Ticket price is not the route to do it.”
The government has said that they are planning to put aside £3.6 billion as a “transitional relief” scheme to help these venues and pubs that will be affected by the cost jump.
Like we spoke about in one of our last blog posts on Twenty One Pilots, bands and fans need these small and intimate venues so that a connection can be made, allowing the band to grow and eventually hit the heights of these stadium tours. Every band and musician has to start somewhere, and if venues start closing down because of these price increases, then lots of artists could suffer massively. We hope an agreement can be made so that the music world doesn’t suffer as a result on another price increase.