London mayor calls on government to protect grassroots venues

london mayor sadiq khan

Twenty-one of London’s grassroots music venues are at risk of closure due to business rate increases, according to new research commissioned by Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

The research, compiled by Nordicity, revealed that the total business rates’ bill for music venues rose overnight by 26 percent when new charges came into effect on 1 April. Approximately one third of grassroots music venues have seen their annual business rates increase by £10,000 or more.

The Mayor said: ‘London’s grassroots music venues are the foundation of the UK’s world-leading music industry, providing a vital talent pipeline for the artists and stars of tomorrow.

‘Music venues are often the place where risks are taken on new artists and cultural innovation happens. They are the main platform for new and emerging artists and for the music industry to spot and recruit the next generation of talent.’

He added: ‘The way in which the business rates are evaluated for London’s grassroots music venues doesn’t make sense – it is completely unfair to bill a business based on the size of its building and not to take its profits into account.

‘At the very least, I want to see Transitional Rate Relief being prioritised for small businesses like grassroots music venues, which contribute so much to London’s reputation as a powerhouse for culture and music.’

The study reveals a further 18 of the capital’s 94 grassroots music venues are expected to experience significant financial challenges. Among their number are premises accounting for up to 530 jobs and generating up to £21.5m for the city’s economy.

Concerned venues include the 100 Club in Oxford Street, a site that has hosted several big names including the Rolling Stones, Kings of Leon, Sex Pistols and Primal Scream. Suffering a rate rise of over 40 percent, owner Jeff Horton is worried for the survival of these venues.

He said: ‘London is one of the most visited cities on the world and people come here because of our incredible arts and cultural heritage.

‘I am not sure the government realise the damage they are doing with these business rates increases. Venues like us need to be looked at like an asset of the community like in Berlin. Places like this are priceless when it comes to our economy and culture. I worry about where the new up-and coming bands are going to come from – if you look at the major festivals it is often the veteran bands who headline them and that is partially because there aren’t as many grassroots music venues that nurture talent as there used to be.’

To read the full report, click here.

This latest development follows industry trade body UK Music’s open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer expressing concerns on the effect of these business rates rises on the live music sector.