According to new figures by Music Venues Trust, a catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head has hit Grassroots Music Venues since the Government announced the implementation of the Plan B restrictions last Wednesday (December 8, 2021), placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

Losses across the sector in this first week of this new phase of the COVID crisis hit nearly £2 million, with 86 per cent of Grassroots Music Venues reporting negative impacts and 61 per cent having to cancel at least one event in the week of December 6-13. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for COVID-19 (35.6 per cent), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3 per cent – especially Christmas parties) and poor sales performance (23.6 per cent).

A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours shows attendance at shows dropped by 23 per cent, with more than 140,000 “no shows” from ticketholders resulting in a 27 per cent decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 27 per cent, as gig goers’ confidence was shattered by a series of Government announcements on the Omicron variant.

Music Venue Trust has called for Nadine Dorries, Secretary of State for Culture, to immediately create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector. Significant funding from the £1.7billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

Beverley Whittrick, strategic director of Music Venues Trust, said: “This is the busiest time of the year for Grassroots Music Venues, representing more than 20 per cent of their annual income being raised during the party season. Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venues Trust, said: “We have been here before. This time the Government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the Grassroots Music Venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the Secretary of State to act quickly. The Government previously used Business Rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”

The full findings of Music Venues Trust’s survey are:

  • 86.3 per cent of UK GMVs reported to have been negatively impacted by the public’s response to Omicron
  • 76.4 per cent of UK GMVs saw a decrease in their gross income in the week of December 6-13
  • The average gross income decrease was 27.1 per cent
  • 79.2 per cent of UK GMVs saw an increase in no shows (advance ticket buyers who did not attend a show) in the week of December 6-13
  • The average no show increase was 23.1 per cent
  • An estimated 142,772 ticket holders failed to attend
  • 74.3 per cent of UK GMVs saw a decrease in their advance ticket sales in the week of December 6-13
  • The average advance ticket sales decrease was 27 per cent