Music Venue Trust reveals second acquisition under Own Our Venues scheme

Music Venue Trust reveals second acquisition under Own Our Venues scheme

Music Venue Trust has announced the second acquisition by Music Venue Properties (MVP) under its Own Our Venues scheme.

The Ferret in Preston, a 200-capacity venue which has hosted artists such as Ed Sheeran, Idle, Alt-J, Royal Blood and many more, will now be placed into permanent protected status.

Own Our Venues was originally launched as a Community Share Offer in 2022. To date almost £2.6m has been raised from over 1,200 individual investors. Funding was matched with a £500,000 investment from Arts Council England, and the figure includes loans of £150,000 from Preston City Council and £500,000 from Arts & Culture Impact Fund.

Following the purchase, The Ferret’s operators have signed a ‘cultural lease’ with Music Venue Properties. It is an agreement specifically created by MVP to guarantee that, as long as The Ferret operates as a space for grassroots live music for their local community, they can enjoy the use of the building. 

“This is a monumental moment for The Ferret,” said Matt Fawbert, director & programme manager of The Ferret. “We’re extremely pleased to be able to say that our venue is now safe and secure for years to come. We want to thank everyone who invested and donated, but today we especially want to thank our friends at Music Venue Properties. To have a landlord that is dedicated to live music and supporting grassroots music venues gives us the security and confidence to not only continue delivering great live music to the people of Preston, but also to invest even more in grassroots music and culture and create something very exciting in our city.”

Adam Devonshire of the band Idles, who have played at The Ferret, said: “We've been fortunate enough to be looked after by the wonderful, hard-working team at The Ferret on a couple of occasions now, so can easily attest to how important a role it plays within the city and how vital a cog it is within the network of grassroots venues in this country. Venues like this are the backbone of the industry and they must be protected by all means necessary. Up The Ferret and all who sail in her.”

We want to see this project rolled out to many more venues across the country

Mark Davyd

Music Venue Properties is the independent Charitable Community Benefit Society (CCBS) created by Music Venue Trust, and funded by the Own Our Venues investment scheme. 

The purchase of The Ferret follows the acquisition in October 2023 of The Snug in Atherton, Greater Manchester. A further seven venues across the country have been identified for purchase in this initial phase.

Like The Ferret, 93% of grassroots music venues (GMVs) are tenants with the typical operator only having 18 months left on their tenancy. 

“This issue of ownership underpins almost every other challenge that GMVs have faced during the last twenty years including gentrification, noise complaints, under-investment, poor economic models, and an inability to plan for the future,” said a statement.

Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, said: “This second purchase by Music Venue Properties is further demonstration that, when the music community comes together around a great idea, we can deliver real positive change to the UK's grassroots music venue sector. The Ferret is the second venue removed from the commercial marketplace under the Own Our Venues scheme. It is now able to make long term plans for its future, and the future of live music in Preston, as a result of a new cultural lease that provides it with permanently protected status. We have already seen the huge difference this has made for the Snug in Atherton, and we want to see this project rolled out to many more venues across the country.” 

Alongside the security offered by the new cultural lease, The Ferret is now directly supported by a landlord that shares and supports its cultural aims. 

Matthew Otridge, Music Venue Properties, said: "Music Venue Properties are very proud to move a second venue into community ownership and to be at the forefront of this exciting, and much needed, grassroots movement. Just over two years ago The Ferret team found out their building was up for sale when a sign was mounted on the front of the building, but today they can look forward to working with a landlord who will support its ambition to bring music to its local community. 

“The cultural lease MVP has created will help to alleviate many of the pressures of a commercial lease and will allow the operators to start focusing on their long-term goals for the building. Crucially, it also guarantees the community of Preston, and the artists who rely on this network of GMVs, that this building will always be a Grassroots Music Venue.”

Meanwhile, Music Venue Trust has revealed some key appointments.

Sophie Brownlee has joined as external affairs manager, while Kimberley Goddard has taken on the role of fundraising manager in a part-time capacity.

In addition, Sophie Asquith has been promoted to be the new Venue Support Team Manager, overseeing the work of the UK’s venue coordinators and heading up MVT’s Emergency Response Service.


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