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Mājas Entertainment Music Venue Trust & Music Venue Properties Announce Second Purchase

Music Venue Trust & Music Venue Properties Announce Second Purchase

Music Venue Trust & Music Venue Properties Announce Second Purchase

Photo Credit: Music Venue Trust

UK charity Music Venue Trust announces the second acquisition for Music Venue Properties under its first-of-its-kind Own Our Venues scheme.

The Ferret in Preston, a 200-capacity venue which has hosted artists like Ed Sheeran, Idles, Alt-J, Royal Blood, and many more, will now be placed into a permanent protected status.

Dubbed the National Trust for Grassroots Music Venues (GMV), Own Our Venues was initially launched as a community share offer in 2022. To date, almost £2.6 million ($3.26 million) has been raised from over 1,200 individual investors. Funding was matched with a £500k ($626k) investment from Arts Council England; the figure includes loans of £150k ($187k) from Preston City Council and £500k from Arts & Culture Impact Fund.

Immediately following the purchase, The Ferret’s operators have signed a ‘cultural lease’ with Music Venue Properties (MVP), which is an innovative agreement specifically created by MVP to guarantee that as long as The Ferret operates as a GMV for their local community, they can enjoy the use of the building.

“This is a monumental moment for The Ferret,” said Matt Fawbert, Director & Program Manager of The Ferret. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to say that our venue is now safe and secure for years to come. We want to thank everyone who invested and donated, but today we especially want to thank our friends at Music Venue Properties.”

“To have a landlord that is dedicated to live music and supporting grassroots music venues gives us the security and confidence to not only continue delivering great live music to the people of Preston but also to invest even more in grassroots music and culture and create something very exciting in our city.”

Adam Devonshire of the band Idles, who have played at The Ferret, added, “We’ve been fortunate enough to be looked after by the wonderful, hardworking team at The Ferret on a couple of occasions now, so can easily attest to how important a role it plays within the city and how vital a cog it is within the network of grassroots venues in this country. Venues like this are the backbone of the industry, and they must be protected by all means necessary.”

The purchase of The Ferret follows the acquisition in October 2023 of The Snug in Atherton, Greater Manchester, and a further seven venues across the country have been identified for purchase in this initial phase.

Like The Ferret, 93% of GMVs are tenants with the typical operator only having 18 months left on their lease. This issue of ownership underpins almost every other challenge GMVs have faced during the last 20 years, including gentrification, noise complaints, underinvestment, and poor economic models.

“This second purchase by Music Venue Properties is further demonstration that, when the music community comes together around a great idea, we can deliver a real positive change to the UK’s Grassroots Music Venue sector,” said Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.

“The Ferret is the second venue removed from the commercial marketplace under the Own Our Venues scheme,” Dayvd continues. “It is now able to make long-term plans for its future and the future of live music in Preston, as a result of a new cultural lease that provides it with permanently protected status. We have already seen the huge difference this has made for The Snug in Atherton, and we want to see this project rolled out to many more venues across the country.”

“Music Venue Properties are very proud to move a second venue into community ownership and to be at the forefront of this exciting, and much-needed, grassroots movement,” concludes Matthew Otridge, Music Venue Properties. “Just over two years ago, The Ferret team found out their building was up for sale when a sign was mounted on the front of the building, but today they can look forward to working with a landlord who will support its ambition to bring music to its local community.”

“The cultural lease MVP has created will help to alleviate many of the pressures of a commercial lease and will allow the operators to start focusing on their long-term goals for the building. Crucially, it also guarantees the community of Preston, and the artists who rely on this network of GMVs, that this building will always be a Grassroots Music Venue.”

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