#KeepVATat5 campaign launched to support live music industry

Today, 4 February 2021, Bristol Beacon is joining the live music industry in urging the Government to extend the reduced 5% VAT rate on tickets.

The #KeepVATat5 campaign, launched today by LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment), is calling on the music industry to put pressure on the Government to extend the policy that was introduced last year.

The past year has been one of the most difficult years ever for the live music industry, with a reduction of more than 80% in revenue across the sector. As one of the first industries to close and likely the last to reopen, the Cultural Recovery Fund, delivered by the Government in 2020, was a lifeline for some businesses in Bristol and across the country. We were pleased to announce last year that Bristol Beacon was awarded a Capital Kickstart grant towards our transformation programme as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund.

Alongside the Culture Recovery Fund was a promised reduction in the rate of VAT on tickets sales down to 5%. This reduction would have kept over £300 million in our industry as we begin to see a way out of the global pandemic.

In July 2020 the Government reduced VAT on event ticket sales from 20% to 5% in response to the demands of the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign and the crisis that the live music industry was, and still is, facing.

Now the Government is planning to raise VAT back to 20%. Reversing this policy before music venues, promoters, festivals and artists have been able to sell tickets in any meaningful volume will remove millions of pounds from the music industry at the point when the sector needs it the most.

This policy was warmly welcomed by Bristol Beacon and the sector when it was announced last year, but the live music industry has not yet truly benefited from it as almost no activity has taken place due to ongoing lockdown restrictions.

If the 5% VAT rate were in place once ordinary ticket sales had resumed (annual consumer spend on live music is approximately £1.7bn), the industry would benefit from a saving of around £320m – income businesses across the live music ecosystem desperately need to recover.

Bristol Beacon is a charity and we invest all profits from ticket sales back into our charitable programmes. These programmes provide:

  • music education to 91% of Bristol schools through 7,000 hours of tuition delivered per week and hundreds of thousands of pounds of investment per year,
  • talent development to hundreds of aspiring local and national artists that ensures the sustainability of the UK’s talent development pipeline,
  • community engagement to the most isolated areas of our society in Bristol.

Our organisation relies on profit from ticket sales to invest in these charitable programmes, which you can read more about here. A rise in VAT threatens the future of these programmes and the future sustainability of our music industry.

Recent media reports have suggested that the Government does not plan to extend the relief beyond March 31, 2021. The Digital Culture Media and Sport Select Committee has recommended a three-year extension to the reduced rate which could be a lifeline for the live music industry.

Increasing VAT by 400% at a time when the live music industry needs crucial support would be catastrophic for our recovery.

What can I do to help?

Right now financial support is vital to the survival of our iconic music industry. We’re joining and supporting the #KeepVATat5 campaign to ensure the UK’s world-leading live music sector can continue to be experienced and shared by everyone in years to come.

Welcome to
Bristol Beacon

On Wednesday 23 September 2020 Colston Hall changed its name to Bristol Beacon.

Our new name is just the first step, it is about more than the sign above our door. Click below to find out more about how we’re changing, watch our name announcement, and discover how we want everyone to share in the joy of live music.

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