Internationally-acclaimed musician Ed Sheeran has backed the Music Venue Trust’s campaign to intervene in the ownership of grassroots music venues in the UK, including pubs that host live events, as many report facing potential closure and job losses due to financial strains this winter.
The chart-topper has thrown his weight behind the group’s ‘Own Our Venues’ initiative, which was launched in June, and is the first step in a long-term campaign to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership.
The campaign is built on the Community Share model that has been successful in saving and protecting local pubs, post offices and even sports grounds.
Organisers are looking to raise £3.5 million in initial investments to acquire nine venues across the country, with these initial venues being chosen for a pilot scheme that will allow the campaign group to establish proof of concept.
Further venue freeholds will then be identified and secured as and when they become available.
On completion of purchase, the venues will be offered an immediate rent reduction and help with building repairs and insurance, with long-term security and market resistant rents also being guaranteed.
MVT aims to complete the purchase of the first nine music venues under this new model by the end of the year.
Since June, hundreds of individuals and companies have already pledged their support either through direct investment in the project via a new investment platform with ethical investment specialists Ethex, or via its dedicated Crowdfunder campaign.
Given the backdrop of recent national and political events in the UK, including the resignation of the Prime Minister, the formation of a new government, the passing of the Queen and the cost of living and energy crisis, which has required MVT’s resources be re-focused in other areas, a decision has been taken to extend the initial fundraising phase of the campaign until 31 December 2022.
Mr Sheeran said these venues are “so important to the music community”, adding that he has played some of his favourite gigs to date in such rooms.
He added: “Own Our Venues is an initiative I’m really passionate about getting behind. We’ve got to do all we can to protect these beautiful venues that we’ve all come to love for years to come.”
Mark Davyd, CEO and founder of MVT, said: “We are blown away by the support already for Own Our Venues. This is campaign that is really resonating with music fans who understand exactly how important it is to keep access to live music in our communities, our towns and cities right across the UK.
“With the Own Our Venues project gathering steam, we are incredibly pleased to get Ed’s support for this initiative – he knows this sector incredibly well and understands how important it is.”
Photo: Dan Martensen