‘You will miss the next Beatles’: At least one UK grassroots music venues closing per week

From stars like The Beatles to Ed Sheeran, it is where they began.

UK grassroots music venues have provided a platform to young music talent for decades.

But these small, independent spaces are now closing at the rate of one per week.

“Around 93% of UK grassroots music venues have got a private landlord,” says Jay Taylor from charity, Music Venue Trust.

Jay Taylor from the Music Venue Trust
Jay Taylor from the Music Venue Trust

And that private landlord and the venues have got very different objectives.

“Landlords want to collect rent: music venues want to champion artists,” he said.

And those rents are increasing, year on year.

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“On average a venue is only ever 18 months away from its next rent review, and that rent is only ever going up,” he says.

‘Save our venues’

The Music Venue Trust is working with grassroots venues to try and secure their future, by buying existing venues from private landlords and acting as a “benevolent” landlord to the existing venue’s managers or owners.

The trust describes it as being like the “National Trust” of music venues.

The Snug
The Snug

The Snug in Atherton was the first gig venue to be purchased under the new scheme, a move that its owner Racheal Flaszczak says “secures” the venue’s future after their former landlord planned to sell the building.

“For us now, we’ve not got that fear of the landlord wanting to sell the property or wanting to bump our rent up,” she told Sky News.

“Being part of the Music Venue Properties gives us the confidence to carry on as we want to.”

The charity now hopes to purchase other venues across the UK, as part of the “Save Our Venues” scheme.

Rachael Flaszczak, Owner of The Snug
Rachael Flaszczak, owner of The Snug

‘You won’t have the next big thing’

Music lovers can also invest, buying shares in venues, and among potential acquisitions is “The Ferret” in Preston.

The iconic gig venue hosted a young Ed Sheeran before he hit the big time but now faces closure after its landlord announced they wanted to sell the building.

Ben & The Believers playing at The Ferret
Ben & The Believers playing at The Ferret

“It’s tough for venues of this size,” says Matt Fawbert, the venue’s general manager. “It’s been a lot tougher this year, I think, each week we’re battling with bills and it’s very up and down.

“And obviously the price of everything is going up, and all of that adds up.”

Tonight, The Ferret is playing host to Lancashire band Ben and The Believers who tell us that without venues like this, there would be “nowhere to play”.

Ben Titley, lead singer, says: “If you’re like us and you’re doing your own songs, it’s hard to think if there weren’t venues like this, and similar ones in other towns – where would we actually play?”

Matt Fawbert, General Manager, The Ferret
Matt Fawbert, general manager at The Ferret in Preston

Bandmate Duane Greaves agrees that, without grassroots venues, “you don’t have the next big thing”.

“You don’t have the next Beatles, you don’t have the next Oasis. You don’t have the next Ed Sheeran, because this is where they learn their craft.”

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