A well-known music venue in the UK, which has hosted popular acts such as Oasis, Radiohead, the Smiths, and Ed Sheeran, will be shutting down after 45 years. In addition, the 26-year-old music festival Nozstock is also ending due to financial struggles caused by the rising cost of living.
The establishment known as Moles, located in Bath, has officially shut down and all upcoming events have been cancelled. The co-owners have expressed that this was a difficult decision that was ultimately necessary. According to Tom Maddicott, one of the co-owners, the rising costs of supplies, utilities, and rent, combined with the financial struggles of customers due to the crisis, have made it unfeasible to keep the business running.
This is a very tough decision for our team, staff, local community, and the talented artists who have contributed to our rich music history. Unfortunately, the truth is that hosting live music at a small scale is no longer financially sustainable and we are not the only venue facing closure.
Maddicott urged for significant changes to be made in the live entertainment industry and for larger companies to back smaller, emerging artists in order to maintain a consistent flow of talent. He pointed out that the football industry has successfully implemented this strategy with the Premier League investing millions into grassroots development to nurture new players. He stressed the importance of the music industry following suit before the grassroots sector crumbles entirely.
Since its establishment in 1978, Moles has gained a renowned reputation for showcasing and supporting live music. Located on George Street in Bath, this 220-person capacity venue has featured early performances from notable artists such as the Killers, Pulp, Fatboy Slim, Blur, the Cure, Eurythmics, Wolf Alice, and Idles. In fact, Manic Street Preachers were even discovered after playing a show at Moles.
The news of its closure comes after the Music Venue Trust (MVT), the industry body that represents the UK’s grassroots venues, warned they were in the middle of a “full-blown crisis”. The charitable organisation said 125 venues have been forced to close in the past 12 months, representing the loss of 4,000 jobs, 14,250 events, 193,230 performance opportunities, £9m of income for musicians and £59m in lost direct economic activity.
There has been a decrease of 12% in the number of venues linked to the trust, with a total of 835 currently open. The remaining venues had a profit margin of 0.2% in 2022, which charity chief Mark Davyd described as almost negligible.
Davyd expressed that today is a somber day for our industry. Moles, a beloved and well-managed grassroots music venue for nearly 45 years, has made every effort to stay afloat by investing all they have into their dedication to live music.
“Throughout the nation, similar establishments are shutting down, despite their role in supporting emerging artists who ultimately bring in significant profits for the wider music industry. In other words, those who benefit from their hard work have severely disappointed them. Unless the industry takes meaningful steps to support, foster, and cultivate the grassroots live scene, it risks a disastrous decline in artist development.”
The organizers of Nozstock: The Hidden Valley, a music festival in Herefordshire, announced that their 2024 event will be their final one after 26 years of operation. In a statement, they expressed their love for the event and their dedicated crew who have worked hard to keep it going. However, due to the financial losses caused by Covid and the current cost-of-living crisis, the risk of continuing the event has become too high.
Upon hearing the news, John Rostron, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals, expressed his concern, stating that it serves as another indication of the precarious state of the cultural industry.
In November, organizers of the Nass festival, which combines music and extreme sports, announced that it will not be returning in 2024. They attributed this decision to the current cost-of-living crisis and rising operational expenses.