16/02/2018: UK Music – the umbrella body for the music industry – today celebrated a “landmark victory” in the battle to save music venues across Scotland from closure.
It welcomed the Scottish Government’s announcement to back plans to safeguard music venues as “fantastic news” and a tremendous boost for the Scottish economy.
The Scottish Government said it will strengthen planning rules in a move that will throw a lifeline to music venues across Scotland.
It will support UK Music’s call for the “Agent of Change” principle to be included in the next revision of the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy, setting out guidelines to which it expects planning authorities to adhere.
The key policy change will make it crystal clear that the Agent of Change will now be included to protect existing Scottish businesses, such as music venues, when areas are being considered for redevelopment.
UK Music has spearheaded the campaign to make developers take account of the impact of any new plans on pre-existing businesses like music venues before going ahead with their schemes.
That could mean, for example, the developer of new flats takes responsibility for soundproofing to avoid the risk of new neighbours complaining about noise from a music venue.
UK Music has worked alongside North East Scotland MSP Lewis Macdonald to campaign for the introduction of “Agent of Change” in Scotland.
As well as the battle for change in Scotland, UK Music has led the campaign to get the “Agent of Change” principle enshrined in law in England and Wales to protect venues from developers.
Over the past decade 35% of music venues across the UK have closed, according to the Music Venue Trust.
UK Music’s campaign to change planning rules has attracted widespread support from politicians from all parties, as well as the Music Venue Trust, the Musicians’ Union and a host of other organisations.
Venues across Scotland including King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut, Sub Club, SWG3, the O2 Academy and the O2 ABC have united to back Agent of Change to protect them from threats of closure at the hands of property developers.
The campaign also attracted the backing of music stars including Sir Paul McCartney, Brian Eno, Chrissie Hynde, Nick Mason, Sandie Shaw, Nadine Shah, Ray Davies, Imogen Heap, Billy Bragg, Feargal Sharkey and Craig David.
Scottish venues that have been forced to close include Studio 24, Electric Circus and Picture House.
If the closures continue, they will severely impact the music industry’s ability to grow the huge contribution it makes to Scotland’s economy.
UK Music Chief Executive Michael Dugher said:
“This is a landmark victory for all those who fought so hard to safeguard the future of music venues in Scotland and across the UK – from grassroots community activists to global music stars who have spent years calling for Agent of Change.
“We are delighted the Scottish Government has thrown its support behind our Agent of Change plan and is toughening the rules to protect grassroots music venues. It’s a tremendous boost for the live music industry.
“Music tourism makes a huge contribution to Scotland, bringing enjoyment to millions and generating £334 million to the local economy.
“Supporting grassroots venues is key to maintaining the Scotland's vibrant and diverse music scene, as well as making sure we have the talent pipeline to maintain the our position as a global force in music.
“It’s great that Scottish Ministers have listened and responded so positively to UK Music, Music Venue Trust and other industry campaigners, all of whom have worked so hard to make sure grassroots venues get the help and protection they need. Lewis Macdonald MSP deserves particular recognition for the tireless dedication and leadership he has shown to deliver this landmark change in Scotland.”