CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Small music venues to get help with business rates

Westminster exempts the 100 Club, but will Camden do the same?

31 January, 2020 — By Dan Carrier

Jeff Horton from the 100 Club with Amy Lame

THE Town Hall is being urged to consider completely scrapping business rates for grassroots music venues – to help stem the loss of performance spaces in London.

This week, the government announced small and medium-sized music venues will be able to claim up to 50 per cent off their rates.

But in Westminster, the council has gone one step further and told clubs that if they are run on a not-for-profit basis, their rates bills could be scrapped altogether.

Yesterday (Wednesday) at the iconic 100 Club in Oxford Street, it was revealed the venue had been granted a new special status that will cut an annual £76,000 rates bill to nothing.

The Greater London Authority’s night czar, Amy Lame, told the New Journal that this policy could be rolled out across London, and urged Camden Council to follow Westminster’s lead.

She said: “This is a real game changer. We have lost 35 per cent of our grass roots music venues across London in just 10 years. Venues can often be in precarious positions and we need to make sure we do what we can to help them flourish.”

She added: “Westminster has laid down a challenge to see who will follow in their footsteps next.”

Venues in Camden Town named on a list of grass roots venues which could be eligible include the Green Note, Dingwalls and The Fiddler’s Elbow.

All are in line for extra help – regardless if they make a profit or not – as their position in nurturing talent for the music industry is recognised. If they pay £51,000 or less in rates, they could receive a rebate of 50 per cent. If they are not-for-profit, it could become a 100 per cent refund.

The Green Note in Parkway, Camden Town, has a focus on folk. Founder Risa Tabatznik told the New Journal: “Paying rates is one of our largest expenses. We will be eligible for the reduction and it will make a real difference.”

Henry Conlon, who owns the Dublin Castle – also in Parkway – which has offered a stage for bands for decades, welcomed the news but said more needed to be done.

“Running a live music venue has high costs,” he said. “You take a lot of risks and there is little profit potential. You are often taking on entry-level musicians, offering them an opportunity, perhaps for the first time, to perform in front of an audience.”

Cllr Beales said: “They can be straight out of their bedrooms or garages – but we recognise the importance of offering a performance space, because how else would people have a springboard? And how else can we keep UK music on the world stage?”

He said: “We have spent 15 years campaigning to be recognised as arts venues. Other arts centres get highly subsidised, but we don’t. Any help is welcomed.”

Cabinet councillor Danny Beales said: “Following the government’s announcement that live music venues will receive a 50 per cent reduction on their business rates, we are looking into more ways we can support these venues.”

He added: “We’ve already toughened our planning regulations to prevent development around these venues that might lead to closure and last year we established a member sub group to help develop a night-time economy strategy to find more ways we can support our late-night businesses, including our music venues.”

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