Ed Sheeran has thrown his weight behind a scheme to help secure the long-term future of grassroots music venues around the UK, saying: “small, independent venues are so important to the music community”.
The Own Our Venues campaign was launched by the charity Music Venue Trust (MVT) in June as part of a “radical” move to help the sector which is in crisis after the impact of pandemic lockdowns and has been further hit by spiralling energy costs.
It is the first step in the group’s long-term plan to take control of the freeholds of music venue premises and bring them under a protected status of benevolent ownership.
The scheme is seeking to raise £3.5 million initially by the end of 2022 to acquire nine venues across the UK in a bid to preserve their future.
Pop superstar Sheeran said: “Own Our Venues is an initiative I’m really passionate about getting behind.
“Small, independent venues are so, so important to the music community, and I’ve played some of my favourite gigs of my career in these rooms.
“We’ve got to do all we can to protect these beautiful venues that we’ve all come to love, for years to come.”
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The singer-songwriter started his career busking and playing at small local venues before going on to become a multi award-winning global star.
The Own Our Venues concept is built on the Community Share model which has been used to save and protect local pubs, post offices and sports grounds.
After the nine venues are purchased, they will be offered back to the operators at a rent reduction and given contributions towards building repairs and insurance.
The scheme aims to provide long-term security and market-resistant rents for the grassroots venues.
MVT said since the campaign launched in June, hundreds of individuals and companies have pledged their support either through direct investment in the project or via its Crowdfunder campaign.
Mark Davyd, chief executive officer 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.”
Matt Otridge, ownership co-ordinator for MVT, added: “We have extended the deadline for investors to come on board through until December 31 2022 to give everyone a chance to get behind this project and make it a reality.
“We have had an incredible response to this initiative right across the music industry and the music community, and we can’t wait to announce some very substantial investments from key stakeholders shortly”.