Rates rise could close fifth of London music venues, mayor warns

Written by on April 11, 2017 in Business, Council, News - Comments Off on Rates rise could close fifth of London music venues, mayor warns
London mayor Sadiq Khan with Eddy Grant and Lambeth council leader Lib Peck at the opening of Electric Avenue last year

London mayor Sadiq Khan with Eddy Grant and Lambeth council leader Lib Peck at the opening of Electric Avenue last year

One in five of London’s grassroots music venues could be forced to close with the loss of hundreds of jobs because of business rates increases, London mayor Sadiq Khan warned today (11 April).

A report that he commissioned says that 21 venues are at risk of closure and a further 18 of London’s 94 grassroots music venues are expected to experience significant financial challenges.

The report says that these 39 venues account for up to 530 jobs and generate up to £21.5m for the capital’s economy.

Another 23 venues are at risk of having to cut the number of new artists they book, instead putting on safer, more established artists who generate higher sales.

The report follows warnings by Brixton venues that the rates rise and new pension and minimum wage regulations are placing a massive burden on their businesses.

The total business rates bill for London music venues rose by more than a quarter (26% – £3.2m to £4m) on 1 April.

Grassroots music – the Effra Hall Tavern. Picture Luke Forsythe

Grassroots music – the Effra Hall Tavern. Picture Luke Forsythe

Research by the UK Cinema Association suggests that London’s cinemas also face an average 25 per cent business rate increase.

Mayor Khan is calling on the Valuation Office Agency to review its policy for grassroots music venues. The way business rates are calculated puts these venues at high risk because they need large buildings in town and city centre locations – where property prices have soared.

With hardly any grassroots venues making enough profit to absorb the rates increase, Khan says they should be protected because of their vital social, cultural and economic role.

He is urging the 33 London rates authorities to make sure cultural businesses get as a share of the £72.5m that councils will receive from central government in the current financial year to offer locally determined business rate relief.

London night czar Amy Lamé

London night czar Amy Lamé

He is also asking the Department for Communities and Local Government to meet London night czar Amy Lamé and the music industry to address the impact of business rates rises on the survival of music venues.

Lamé said: “Over the past few years we’ve lost too many of these amazing venues, so it’s vital that we act now to protect the ones we have and to encourage new places to open.

“We’ve just reached a point where we’ve stemmed the flow of closures and now these precious venues are facing rising business rates bill, adding another blow to their survival.”

She and Philip Kolvin QC, the lawyer who acted to halt the closure of Islington nightclub Fabric and who is chair of the capital’s night time commission, will work to bring together local authorities, the police, venue and business owners, developers and the public – in a drive to ensure everyone benefits from London as a 24-hour city and that the contribution of live music venues towards the capital’s unique character is recognised.

The current issue of the Brixton Bugle has a Brixton Business Improvement District (BID) feature on the local night-time economy.

 

About the Author

Alan Slingsby moved to Brixton just as the 1981 uprising began. His nearest pub was the Effra and nearest off licence the Frontline — long gone in an earlier wave of closures of treasured community establishments. Has edited newspapers for the National Union of Students and National Union of Teachers. Now makes a living designing magazines and books and anything else people will pay him for.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: