Music

Grassroots music venue The Snug rescued by community investment: 'This means everything'

The Snug in Manchester is the first venue to be bought over by Music Venue Trust’s #ownourvenues scheme, guaranteeing it as a grassroots live music venue. 

a crowd of people celebrating outside The Snug in Manchester

Celebrations as The Snug becomes the first grassroots music venue purchased under the #ownourvenues campaign. Photo: Music Venue Trust

Tiny grassroots music venue The Snug has built a loyal audience since it opened in Atherton, Greater Manchester in May 2022. But when their landlord wanted to sell the building, it looked like they’d reached the end of the line.

That was, until the Music Venue Trust’s ground-breaking new #ownourvenues scheme stepped in. Today, The Snug’s operators became the first to sign a ‘cultural lease’, guaranteeing the space’s future as a grassroots live music venue. 

Their new landlords are Music Venue Properties (MVP), an independent organisation created by Music Venue Trust to revolutionise cultural ownership in the UK. The project was made possible by the purchase of ‘community shares’ by more than 1,200 individual investors, including £500,000 investment from both Arts Council England and Arts & Culture Finance.

“The Snug being purchased by Music Venue Properties means everything to me, my team and our community, as it allows us to continue to provide this very important space to up-and-coming artists for many years to come,” said Rachael Flaszczak, managing director of The Snug.

“We now feel secure and confident to plan ahead knowing the venue is in safe hands with people that have a shared vision of the future of new music. To be the first of many serves as a light of hope that the preservation of grassroots music venues can be done when people pull together to make things happen, and The Snug can keep showcasing the cultural life within our community.”

The Snug’s recent predicament is one shared by many venues across the UK. Ninety-three percent of grassroots music venues are tenants, with the typical operator only having 18 months left on their tenancy. This leaves them at risk of rent increases and eviction. In the last year, the UK lost almost 16% of these spaces.

Music Venue Trust said the issue of ownership underpins almost every other challenge grassroots music venues face, including gentrification, noise complaints, under-investment and an inability to plan for the future. 

“The #ownourvenues project is a cutting-edge initiative and this first acquisition of The Snug is the culmination of a long-held ambition of Music Venue Trust.  It shows a way forward not just for music, but for community ownership right across the UK. We hope we have created a template that can be replicated wherever a community highly values a cultural asset,” added Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.

In addition to The Snug, MVP has identified another eight venues – five in England, one in Scotland and two in Wales – for a pilot project that will allow the scheme to establish proof of concept. 

The Big Issue has recently launched our own campaign to protect and champion grassroots music venues across the UK. Every week, Venue Watch shines a light on one of these vital cultural institutions – uncovering why they matter and the challenges they face, as well as telling you how you can help.

Sign up to join Venue Watch below. Please tell us if you know a venue that deserves to be recognised.

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