A major new independent review has been announced into Manchester’s grassroots music venues and how the Council and its partners can better support and champion them.

The review will be commissioned by Manchester Music City (MMC) and will be overseen by the MMC steering group led by its chair Debra King, director of Manchester-based music development organisation Brighter Sound.

Due to start its work in April, the review will report back in the autumn with practical recommendations for supporting and nurturing small and medium-sized venues in the city while being considerate of residents and businesses in the growing city and the Council’s legal responsibilities.

The review will consider the needs of the music sector within the city’s policies, planning considerations, regulatory functions such as environmental health and licensing and the development of new frameworks and priorities.

Its report will also advise on supporting the development of Manchester as a Music City, with a vibrant and inclusive cultural economy which attracts and nourishes grassroots talent. In 2019 Manchester joined The Music Cities network, a global network of leading world music cities.

Manchester has a world-renowned musical heritage and remains a powerhouse of talent with a remarkable range of grassroots venues enjoyed by city residents and visitors.

Council Leader Cllr Bev Craig said: “Music is part of Manchester’s DNA and Manchester’s music sector is one of the distinctive ingredients which make this a world class city. We want to protect, champion and grow it. Grassroots venues are an essential element in nurturing talent. The council, and its partners, want to do all we can to support and protect them. These venues deliver meaningful social, cultural, economic and health benefits for Manchester people and opportunities for new musicians.

“I know we have seen an instance recently, with the Night & Day case, where the legal and regulatory duties on placed public bodies have appeared to some to conflict with this aspiration. While the legal context is complex, working together with the sector I’m confident that this independent review will help us find solutions to prevent future cases and move us forward in the future.

“I want to be absolutely clear that we want to keep all our great venues in this city open and thriving, and encourage new ones to establish themselves as part of Manchester’s growing music scene.

“It’s important to me that it’s an independent piece of work, not a Council-led one. Engaging via Manchester Music City with grassroots venues in the city and Manchester’s music sector, the review will come up with recommendations which to ensure that grassroots venues can thrive as the city and its population continue to grow and develop. The review will present its recommendations to the council to form part of a new music venues policy and we will also aim to learn lessons from best practice across the world.”

Debra King said: “This review and its recommendations will be critical to strengthening the position of grassroots music venues in the city and in ensuring that music continues to be central to the cultural vibrancy of Manchester.”


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