MPs want creative tax relief extended to urban and grime music

MPs are calling on the government to extend the tax relief already given for orchestra performances to other forms of music production such as urban music and grime, in a bid to slow closures of venues and support live music

The proposal forms part of a report by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee looking at live music.

The inquiry heard evidence that smaller venues were closing because of high business rates and restrictions on opening hours, while there were also ‘persisting prejudice’ against urban music and grime artists, which hindered the export potential of this section of the market.

The report stated: ‘We have heard consistent calls for the contribution of grassroots venues as cultural assets to be recognised in policy and funding decisions.

‘The government has eight corporation tax reliefs for the creative industries, including one for orchestras; however, the relief does not apply to other forms of making music.

‘’We asked the minister whether any assessment had been made of the potential to extend the relief and were encouraged when she replied that she does not “see why we should not be looking at extending the tax reliefs to other forms of music.”

‘However, in a follow-up letter to us, the minister said the music industry “has yet to present a strong evidence based case” for extending the relief, which “will be key in making the case […] to HM Treasury”.’

The report also noted: ‘In the past decade, the UK has seen the closures of music venues nationwide, while sites that remain face a struggle to stay open given rising costs and declining revenues. ‘Unsubsidised, small and medium-scale venues face particular problems attributed to rising rents and business rates and stagnating incomes.

‘The report finds that the government has failed to act promptly to stem the tide of the closures happening on a scale unprecedented in other cultural sectors, a development that presents a significant and urgent challenge to the music industry.

‘Evidence suggests that the UK’s position at the forefront of the music industry could be at risk because the next generation of musicians will be denied spaces to hone their live craft.

‘The government should immediately review the impact of recent business rates changes on the live music sector and introduce new or extend existing relief schemes such as those for pubs or small retail properties to lessen the burden of business rates on music venues in order to protect grassroots venues and independent festivals.’

Damian Collins, chair of the DCMS committee said:’ Urgent action is needed if the live music industry is to continue to make a significant contribution to both the economy and cultural life of the country.’

The committee also took the unusual step of warning the public not to buy tickets from the secondary sales agency Viagogo, until it could show it complied fully with consumer law.

DCMS committee Live Music report

Report by Pat Sweet

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