Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has suggested that the “big players” of the music industry should pay a levy to support grassroots music venues through the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking as part of Independent Venue Week’s Culture Panel last week (January 28), Burnham said the industry had a responsibility to protect beleaguered venues which have faced the threat of financial ruin.

Proposing a new levy, Burnham likened it to his own role in the formation of the Football Foundation, which was established in 2000 to provide funding for grassroots football facilities.

“The industry has to pay a levy to support grassroots venues, because that is their talent production ground. They are the junior football clubs of the country. That’s where the talent comes through,” he said.

UK grassroots venues
Venues in the UK have been affected by coronavirus (Picture: Gary Calton / Alamy Stock Photo)

Burnham said that the closure of venues would be “like closing junior grassroots football clubs and then expecting English football to still be strong.”

Backing the idea, Music Venue Trust CEO Mark Davyd explained that a number of European countries tax the music industry to finance grassroots music development.

“We would rather see the industry organise itself into such a model,” he said, per the BBC.

“We believe the skills and expertise available in our industry could quickly develop such a programme to be an effective model of investment into new talent.

“We think it is preferable if our industry takes control of this opportunity itself but we understand why the government and politicians will take an interest in it if we are not able to do so.”

Last month the Music Venue Trust distributed £230,000 in funding to 24 of the UK’s worst-hit grassroots music venues.

The MVT has continued to work to protect and preserve live music in the UK during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced live music spaces across the country to close their doors. Back in November, the organisation launched a campaign to save 30 UK venues that were still in danger of being lost forever in the wake of coronavirus restrictions.

Having already secured over £80 million in donations and government grants this year through their #SaveOurVenues campaign – securing the futures of over 400 UK grassroots venues until March 31, 2021 – the MVT moved to aid 24 venues that have been “unable to access sufficient funding” and have been “added to a ‘red list’ of venues in imminent danger of permanent closure”.

Looking ahead to the future, the 100 Club in London recently confirmed that they would be piloting a new ventilation system that aims to wipe out 99.99% of dangerous airborne pathogens, such as coronavirus, within buildings.

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