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Scotland’s Grassroots Music Venue Sector on Brink of Collapse Once More

Attendance drops by a catastrophic 27% in one week following Scottish Government announcements

Music Venue Trust urges Holyrood to take action immediately

A catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head has hit Scotland’s  Grassroots Music Venues placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

Losses across the sector in this latest hit nearly £200,000, with 94% of grassroots music venues reporting negative impacts and 68% having to cancel at least one event in the week of 6th-13th December. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (41%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (35% – especially Christmas Parties) and poor sales performance (33%).

Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director MVT said:

‘This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season. Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.’

A survey of the sector conducted in the last 24 hours shows attendance at shows dropped by 27.2%, with over 15,000 ‘no shows’ from ticket holders resulting in a 30% decline in gross income. Future income from ticket sales also declined by 29%, as gig goers’ confidence was shattered by a series of government announcements on the Omicron variant. 

Mark Davyd, CEO MVT said:

It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it. The sector already sustained £2.25 million in losses as a result of the vaccination only passport and is now losing a further £200,000 per week’

Music Venue Trust has called for Angus Robertson (Cabinet Secretary for Culture) and Kate Forbes (Cabinet Secretary for Finance) to work together quickly to get essential funding into the sector

‘We have been here before” says Davyd, “The government already has the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. We were delighted to hear that a £100 million fund has been created to manage these impacts. The sector just needs the Scottish Government to act quickly. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done, has finances available, and can choose very quickly to do it.’


Impact of the public’s reaction to the emergence of the Omicron variant on

Scottish Grassroots Live Music Sector

Information in this report was compiled from a survey circulated amongst the Music Venues Alliance: an 83 strong network of Scotland’s grassroots music venues (GMVs). The statistics shown below are based upon information provided by 54 survey respondents, reporting on their business between the dates of 6th-13th December 2021. This sample is considered statistically significant and provides 92% accuracy in relation to outcomes for the whole sector.

The Impact – Scottish Music Venues

94.4% of Scottish GMVs reported to have been negatively impacted by the public’s response to Omicron

85.2% of Scottish GMVs saw a decrease in their gross income in the week of 6-13 December. 

The average gross income decrease was 30.3%

90.7% of Scottish GMVs saw an increase in no shows (advance ticket buyers who did not attend a show) in the week of 6-13 December. 

The average no show increase was 27.3%

An estimated 15,137 ticket holders failed to use their tickets

79.6% of Scottish GMVs saw a decrease in their advance ticket sales in the week of 6-13 December. 

The average advance ticket sales decrease was 28.8%

68.5% of Scottish GMVs had to cancel at least one event in the week of 6-13 December due to Omicron. This was primarily due to a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid-19 (40.7%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (35.2%) and poor sales performance (33.3%)


Image credit: Hope Holmes

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