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A fifth of London’s grassroots music venues could be facing closure


Last month, we brought you the news that a hike in London’s business rates could pose an epic threat to the city’s independent traders. Now new research commissioned by the Mayor of London from economic analysts Nordicity has shown that 21 of London’s historic and grassroots music venues are at risk of closure as a direct result of the increase, with 18 more facing severe financial challenges.

The rise in taxation, which came into action on April 1, meant that one-third saw their annual business rates increase by £10,000. That's a hell of a cost to absorb through profits alone in an already challenging market. 

Those at risk include the Lexington and Hoxton’s 100-year-old music and arts pub the Macbeth. Oxford Street’s The 100 Club, a venue that opened its doors in 1948 and has hosted the likes of the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Primal Scream, will also struggle to make ends meet as it faces a rates bill hike of 40 percent (an eye-watering £20,000). Jeff Horton, The 100 Club’s owner, said: ‘I am not sure the government realise the damage they are doing with these business rates increases. Venues like us need to be looked at like an asset of the community, like in Berlin.’

But it’s not just about closures. Increased costs will have a knock-on effect on the number of acts venues like the Lexington will be able to book, decreasing the already limited opportunities for emerging artists. With the growing financial burden, club owners might be less inclined to take chances, and lean towards gigs that will ensure higher ticker sales. The Nordicity research indicates that 14,000 performance opportunities could be cut. 

London theatres and cinemas are feeling the pinch too, particularly at smaller locations like the affordable Genesis Cinema on Mile End Road. Its director, Tyrone Walker-Hebborn has said the business rates mean an inevitable rise in ticket prices for the consumer. 

In light of the research, the Mayor has called for Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to hold an urgent meeting with his Night Czar, Amy Lamé, and the ‘music industry’ to address the crushing impact of the business rates. It’s going to be a long day at City Hall.

Want to support London's independent music scene? Find the best gigs here.

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