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A fifth of London’s music venues could be forced to close

RISK: Many music venues could face closure across London

TWENTY-ONE of London’s much-loved grassroots music venues are at risk of closure due to business rates increases according to shocking new research commissioned by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan.

A further 18 of London’s 94 grassroots music venues are expected to experience significant financial challenges. In total, these 39 venues account for up to 530 jobs and generate up to £21.5m for the capital’s economy.

On top of this, an additional 23 venues are at risk of having to cut the number of new artists they book, instead opting to put on safer, more-established artists that generate higher sales.

Overall, this reduction could eliminate at least 14,000 emerging-artist performances annually and have a knock-on effect for the music industry, reducing the opportunities for new and emerging talent in London.

This comes just as London’s grassroots venues are getting back on their feet. After ten years of decline, 2016 was the first time that the number of venues across the capital remained stable.

The research, compiled for the Mayor by Nordicity, reveals that the total business rates bill for music venues rose overnight by 26 per cent when the new charges came into effect on 1 April - from £3.2m to £4m. Approximately one-third of grassroots music venues have seen their annual business rates increase by £10,000 or more.

Venues most at risk include the Lexington and the Macbeth, both in Islington.

Sadiq Khan 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.

“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.”

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