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Liberal Democrats

F25: Music Venues

14 members

Mover: Beatrice Bass.

Summation: Benjamin Thomas.

Conference notes that:

i) Britain has a vibrant music culture and can be proud of its musical heritage with diverse styles and a broad range of internationally successful artists, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Blur, Adele, Coldplay, Muse and Dizzee Rascal to name a few.

ii) The music industry makes a huge contribution to the UK economy – music tourism generated £4 billion with over 30 million people attending live events in 2016 according to UK Music’s Wish You Were Here report in 2017.

iii) Music venues play a vital role in nurturing the music industry and giving a platform for new up and coming bands and artists; most successful artists, including those named above, started out performing in grassroot music venues.

iv) Music artists increasingly depend on live concerts and touring to generate sufficient income, but according to a report by the Commons Digital, Media, Culture and Sports Select Committee, 35 per cent of grassroot music venues have closed in the last decade; one of the biggest problems is developers moving next to music venues and imposing venue closures due to noise/nuisance complaints.

v) The Liberal Democrats have a history of supporting the creative industries.

vi) Thanks to the ‘Agent of Change’ campaign of UK Music and the Music Venue Trust, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was amended to protect existing music venues; Section 182 provides that landlords or developers have to provide soundproofing to keep new developments next to long-standing venues noise free, but while cities like Bristol and London have adopted this new planning policy, not all local planning authorities have done so.

vii) Current private and statutory nuisance law in England allows for new property owners to move next to an established music venue and claim for nuisance to stop the music; it is anticipated that the new NPPF will lead to new judicial rulings, but there is no precedent or legislation to this effect yet.

viii) The Government has explicitly excluded music venues from business rate relief on the grounds that they are not ‘similar in nature’ to pubs and clubs despite some venues facing rate hikes of up to 806% following the damaging 2017 revaluation.

Conference calls for:

1. Promotion and advocacy of the creative industry with progressive policies that support musicians and the prolific music culture in the UK.

2. Liberal Democrat Parliamentarians and councillor organisations and campaigners to work with existing organisations such as UK Music, the Music Venue Trust and the Arts Council to protect music venues.

3. Support for legislative changes that protect music venues including:

a) Local authorities to implement and enforce Section 182 of the NPPF.

b) Introduction of further legislation to amend some of the legal principles of private and statutory nuisance to enable exceptions for long-established music venues.

c) Support for music venues being listed as Assets of Community Value.

4. Allocation of more government funding for grassroot music venues via the Arts Council.

5. Amended Government guidance to ensure music venues are eligible for business rate relief.

Applicability: England only.

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