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“There are towns all across the UK where bands can’t go and play and fans can’t see them – that’s ridiculous”: Music Venue Trust CEO speaks out following closure of Moles venue

“It’s going to hit the talent pipeline… If they think that these things are going to magically appear out of TikTok, then they can go for that and their business can fail.”

Moles venue sign from outside the building.

Image: Mike Kemp / Getty

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Mark Davyd, CEO of the Music Venue Trust has shared his thoughts on the “bleak” closures of grassroots venues across the UK.

125 grassroots music venues were closed in 2023 alone across the UK, one of which was of course iconic venue Moles. The venue was located in Bath, and hosted huge artists such as Ed Sheeran, Oasis, Wolf Alice and more in the early stages of their music careers.

Speaking to NME in an eye-opening new report, Davyd expressed concern for the future of live music venues and emerging talent: “It’s been the worst year ever for venue closures,” he says.

“The rise of costs and energy is extraordinary and nobody seems to care, the rise in rents is just astonishing with landlords trying to make money back they might have lost during COVID by rapidly increasing rents beyond the possibility of what can be paid…

“The only way that music at a grassroots level can survive and thrive is with outside investment. The money that’s required can’t be made at ground level, unless you bring in the government to halve energy bills, take on the landlords, bring down the costs and radically change loads of little things.”

Some people, including Moles owner Tom Maddicott, are suggesting a “Premier League” investment model as seen in UK football, where those high up in the industry (such as large arenas) invest back into grassroots venues.

“Bath no longer has a place that you can go and play as part of your tour,” adds Davyd. “That’s a whole town. We’re not talking about a tiny place, but there are towns all across the UK where bands can’t go and play and fans can’t see them – that’s ridiculous.

“It’s going to hit the talent pipeline, and people are stupid if they don’t see the role that places like Moles play in developing talent. If they think that these things are going to magically appear out of TikTok, then they can go for that and their business can fail.”

Find out more about how you can support the Music Venue Trust.

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