Stars join fight against venue closures
Sir Paul McCartney and Frank Turner are supporting a new bill that aims to save live music venues from closing
This week the music veterans declared their support for the agent-for-change principle. The fight has stepped up a gear with the announcement that senior Labour MP John Spellar will introduce a bill in the Commons to change planning laws.
The bill was raised during the day’s Ten Minute Rule Bill on 10 January, and it has progressed to the second reading which will take place on 19 January.
In a defiant mood, Sir Paul said: “Without the grassroots clubs, pubs and music venues my career could have been very different.”
Speaking on 5 News, Frank Turner said: “My 20th anniversary of touring is this year. I’ve played most of the small and underground venues in my time… They are the reason I was able to develop myself as an artist.”
When asked about the details of the principle Turner explained: “It’s a very simple principle which simply says that, whoever changes the usage of the buildings in a certain area bears the cost of that change.”
Continuing: “If you build a block of flats next to a music venue that’s been there 40 years… The developer who builds the flats is the person responsible for making sure that noise complaints are handled. They bare the legal and financial costs of doing that.”
In November Songwriting Magazine wrote about the possible closure of Bristol venue, Thekla. This is an issue that most music fans can relate to, as many gig spots around the UK are staring into the abyss.
In fact, the pandemic isn’t confined to the UK, with venues across the world facing the same fate. One music lover wrote on Twitter: “Austin, TX has been dealing with this issue. ‘Live Music Capital of the World’ and ‘Fastest Growing City’ doesn’t always coexist peacefully.”
The reason for small venues closing has been attributed to developers buying up buildings to turn into flats. But are there other causes contributing to the problem? Reality TV, for example, is an attractive concept for many musicians looking for instant fame. An opinion The Pretenders’ frontwomen Chrissie Hynde shares, saying: “It isn’t talent shows on television or theatre schools that propagate great music, it’s small venues.”
You can find out more on the matter, or share your experiences, by using the hashtags #SaveLiveMusic and #AgentofChange.