Tax hike poses threat to live gigs

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Increasing tax paid by music venues could pose a major threat to the UK’s live music scene, experts have warned.

The organisers of Britain’s first live music census, which starts at noon on Thursday, say a major overhaul of commercial property rates could amount to a huge rise in costs and force many venues to close. Crucial tax details are set to be revealed in Wednesday’s Budget.

Dr Matt Brennan, who is leading the project, says venues operating at grassroots level are particularly vulnerable.

He added: “Venues around the country have been telling us that they already operate on thin margins, so proposed increases in rateable values of up to 55 per cent in some cases will have a significant impact.

“The UK Live Music Census will be very important in identifying challenges that the industry faces, such as rising rates and other issues. It will give us a detailed picture of what exactly it means to be venue owner, a musician, and a live music lover in 2017.

“Our hope is that the census will be a vital tool in strengthening a much-loved part of the UK’s culture.”

Described by its organisers as a “Springwatch for live music” , the UK Live Music Census is led by the universities of Edinburgh, Newcastle and Glasgow. For 24 hours from noon on Thursday, a volunteer army of music lovers will track performances in cities across the country – from lone buskers to stadium concerts.

There will be coordinated censuses across the country, including Leeds. Volunteers will attend live music events, including Olly Murs at Leeds Arena.

A nationwide online survey for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences will also go live on March 9 and will be open until May 8.

The survey can be found at