COO | Music Venue Trust

Prior to Music Venue Trust, small venues were known as “The Toilet Circuit” in the UK and dive bars in the U.S.

“Not only have we achieved internationa
l acceptance of the term ‘Grassroots Music Venues’ but internationally there is conversation about the cultural, social and economic value,” said Beverley Whitrick, MVT’s chief operating officer.

Purchasing venues was one of MVT’s original intentions when the charitable organization was created in 2014 to help protect, secure and improve music venues in the UK.

“We are called ‘Music Venue Trust’ because we want to be like a National Trust for Grassroots Music Venues but, when we started, awareness of the social, cultural and economic importance of GMVs was very low,” Whitrick said. “We needed to change that before we could build a scheme to raise the money to start buying them. This is a very long-term endeavor.”

Whitrick’s main role has been to develop the MVT team into a sustainable shape that can manage the vast array of work the charity now does. Along with her team, Whitrick has changed the membership model of the Music Venues Alliance so that more secure venues can help support others. Also, the Emergency Response Service funding is ongoing rather than being reliant on donations.

“Our Live Projects work has really made a huge difference, especially getting artists playing post-COVID, so we hope to do a lot more of this,” Whitrick explained. “We also continue to develop tools to support venues across the country and work with governments and other agencies to try and find ways to make running a GMV easier.”

A 2022 highlight was MVT’s endorsement of Own Our Venues campaign by Ed Sheeran.

“There’s so much under the radar work going on for this project,” Whitrick said. “Ed Sheeran’s support is fantastic, and we hope to be able to make more announcements about other supporters very soon. Once this news is out we hope it will encourage more investors to come on board.”

Unfortunately, more venues have been lost since emerging from COVID than closed during the pandemic.

“Financial pressures are only going to cause more potential closures or venues losing buildings as landlords decide not to renew the lease or increase the rent dramatically,” she said. “I predict that our Venues Support team is going to be very busy, but we will continue to do everything we can to help GMVs endure.”

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