Music Venue Trust calls on local councils to help save gig spaces after Preston City Council gives £150k to Own Our Venues scheme

The Trust has called on other councils to make the "imperative" move and follow suit

The Music Venue Trust has called on local councils to help save gig spaces after securing a loan from £150,000 Preston City Council for the Own Our Venues scheme.

Launched last year, the Own Our Venues is part of the Trust’s campaign to make a radical intervention in the ownership of the UK’s Grassroots Music Venues. Preston City Council made the loan to the scheme after local music venue The Ferret was one of nine venues earmarked for the first round of purchase for community ownership.

The Trust (MVT) has now called on other councils to make the “imperative” move and follow suit by getting involved in the scheme. Matthew Otridge, the Ownership Coordinator for MVT, said: “We are delighted that Preston City Council are supporting our efforts to save The Ferret and move it into Community Ownership.


“Like The Ferret, the Grassroot Music Venues we are looking to purchase at this stage are at the forefront of the live music provision in their towns and cities. In fact, some are the only remaining live music venue.

Buzzcocks live at The Ferret
The Buzzcocks play The Ferret in Preston. Credit: Steve Wright

“It is therefore imperative that other local Councils follow PCCs lead and support this campaign in recognition of these vital cultural and community hubs. We must Own Our Venues.”

Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, Deputy Leader of Preston City Council, said that the Ferret and other gig spaces are “important part of our city centre arts scene” and that it would be detrimental to the local music scene to lose independent venues.

Speaking about the council’s decision to loan the money to the Own Our Venues scheme, Councillor Rawlinson said: “We felt that it was important that we did what we could to help support the Ferret’s campaign to raise the funds to purchase the building and stop it from being sold for commercial development.”

Meanwhile, the general manager of The Ferret, Matt Fawbert, said: “The biggest worry now, is that the property is in the hands of a private landlord, and they have put the property up for sale.


“It just shows, you can fight through the pandemic and you can get through all sorts of problems but the landlord could take this away at any point by selling the building.  Help us save the Ferret, get involved now, let’s own our venues.”

The Ferret is a long-standing venue in the city, and has played host to the likes of Ed Sheeran, who backed the Grassroots Ownership Scheme last year. The Ferret is just one of nine venues picked for the first round of funding by the MVT in its grassroots scheme – see the others below.

So far £1.8m of the target total of £2.5m has already been secured and MVT aims to begin purchasing its first venues in April. The current fundraiser closes on March 30, and investments which start at £100 and can go up to £100,000, can be made here (with a guaranteed 3% APR return on any investments).

Alternatively, those who would rather make a one off donation can do so here.

The local gig venues included in the first round of Own Our Venues:

  • The Ferret, Preston
  • The Snug, Atherton
  • Le Pub, Newport
  • The Glad Café, Glasgow
  • The Hairy Dog, Derby
  • Sunbird, Darwen
  • The Polar Bear, Hull
  • The Palladium, Bideford
  • Bunkhouse, Swansea

Grassroots music venues from across the UK spoke to NME recently about the “perfect storm” they face from the cost of living crisis, Brexit, cancelled shows and music fans’ last minute decisions on showing up

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