A catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head has hit Scotland’s Grassroots Music Venues placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.
Losses across the sector in this latest hit nearly £200,000, with 94% of grassroots music venues reporting negative impacts and 68% having to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (41%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (35% – especially Christmas Parties) and poor sales performance (33%).
Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director MVT said: “This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% 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.”
A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours shows attendance at shows dropped by 27.2%, with over 15,000 ‘no shows’ from ticket holders resulting in a 30% decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 29%, as gig goers’ confidence was shattered by a series of government announcements on the Omicron variant.
Mark Davyd, CEO MVT said: “It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality hemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it. The sector already sustained £2.25 million in losses as a result of the vaccination only passport and is now losing a further £200,000 per week”
Music Venue Trust has called for Angus Robertson (Cabinet Secretary for Culture) and Kate Forbes (Cabinet Secretary for Finance) to work together quickly to get essential funding into the sector.
“We have been here before” says Davyd, “The government already has the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. We were delighted to hear that a £100 million fund has been created to manage these impacts. The sector just needs the Scottish Government to act quickly. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done, has finances available, and can choose very quickly to do it.”