#SaveLondonMusic – Live music in London – The tide is turning

After a decade and a half of decline, we are finally starting to see the tide turn in the battle to save Londons live music scene. In 2016 the Mayor of London set up a London Music Board and has also appointed a Night Tzar for music (Amy Lame). A recent report by the board has reported that the tide is turning and for the first time in a decade, the number of grassroots venues has remained stable.

Although there are a number of factors in play, it is clear that having set up the London Music Board and commissioned a report into how Londons music culture can be preserved is starting to have an effect.
Without Grassroots venues, London won’t call anyone
Our campaign has worked tirelessly to make the case. Grassroots venues are vital to keep London at the epicentre of the worlds music scene. Without small venues where new artists can hone their trade, there is absolutely no way we can maintain our artistic creativity base. Without this, the £4 billion contribution the music industry makes will whither and die.
We (The #SaveLondonMusic) are now in our third year and we believe that we’ve played a major role in making the case for small venues. We see our role as twofold. We work behind the scenes, campaigning and lobbying for live venues. This involves writing hundreds of emails and letters to various politicians and other key decision makes, reading thick reports and trying to ensure that grassroots venues get the best deal possible. Then there is the public work. This involves setting up live music events and promoting live music through our website. Last year was phenomenal. We staged the North Finchley Fest putting on over 50 artists at six venues. In 2016, in association with the Robert Elms show, we made a definitive list of grassroots venues in London and we tried to put on as many gigs as possible at these venues.
So where has this got us? What have we achieved? Clearly the tide has turned. In part this is due to a real re-awakening of interest in live music. How are we getting on in our aims
1. Special protection for important London music venues from redevelopment. This should take two forms. The first should grant important venues the same protection as listed buildings. The second is that where large infrastructure projects destroy venues (such as the Astoria), the venue should be resited elsewhere in equivalent or better premises at zero cost to the operator.
There is a lot of work to be done on this issue. The issue has been recognised and people are getting better at running campaigns to make it harder to destroy our heritage. The Mayors office has recognised this by setting up the London Music Board.
2. Established venues should be protected from noise and disruption complaints from neighbours. Soundproofing etc should not be the responsibility of the venue, where the venue is an established music site.
In three years, we’ve managed to put agent of change legislation on the agenda. As Music Week details this week, this in itself isn’t enough, but it is one of many aspects of the campaign that will make a difference. Here is our agenda :-
3. As creative industries are a key component in the UK economy, tax breaks, planning assistance and grants should be made avaialble to any company or individual investing in infrastrure to support creative industries.  This should be done with a view to ensuring the UK maintains its leading position as the centre of world music.
From a music perspective the following should be available.
* Capital Tax allowances for investment in venues and studios
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.
* Free or discounted planning costs for studios,  music venues and other music related companies (such as instrument manufacturers etc).
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.
* Rates holidays for start up businesses involved in the music and creative sector. A six month period of zero rates and a six month period of 50% rates would give businesses a great
opportunity to get off the ground and generate employment
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.
* Offer grants to creative industries to assist with the costs etc of starting a creative business, specifically for assistance with the cost of consultants for noise control and other issues which
are specific to the music industry.
This is now recognised as an area that needs to be developed. Work is being done.
* Enact legislation to ensure that major new developments include an element of light industrial space suitable for creative industries and studio space at low rent.
Sadly this is an agenda item that there has been little progress.
* Offer mentoring and assistance to young people wishing to set up SME’s focussing on the creative sector.
The London Music Board are looking into this
We are also working to actively set up new grassroots music venues across London and support other individuals and organisations with the same aim
There has been some progress in this area. Locally venues are waking up to the fact that live music can make a difference to the bottom line for their businesses.
In short, we are starting to turn the time. To quote Winston Churchill. With regards to our campaign to #SaveLondonMusic, it is not the end, it is not the beginning of the end, it is the end of the beginning.

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