Stoke-on-Trent City Council is launching a review of the city’s music and entertainment venues to assess current provision and make recommendations for the future.
A proud connection
Council leader Jane Ashworth said the city has “a proud and exciting connection with popular entertainment across many genres and offers experiences at a range of music and entertainment venues”.
The review aims to “build on our city’s track record of providing great popular entertainment experiences by looking at future needs, supporting existing venues to thrive and develop and planning for new venues”.
Challenging times for Stoke
Data provided by UK Music shows that in 2022 the music industry contributed £6.7bn to the UK economy and provided employment for 210,000 people. But the past few years have been challenging for live music venues across the UK.
In September MixMag reported data gathered by the Music Venue Trust (MVT) which showed 67 venues had already closed by that point in 2023 and a further 90 were working with the Trust’s Emergency Response Team. Of these, half were expected to close by the end of the year.
The continuing impact of lockdown and rising energy costs are among the factors cited by the Trust as potentially causing the UK to lose 10% of its live music venues by 2024.
Quoted in the MixMag article, MVT Live Projects Coordinator Rebecca Walker said there was a “well documented and evidenced crisis at grassroots level” that was preventing emerging artists from finding an audience.
Grassroots’ involvement to help shape the future
The review into Stoke’s entertainment venues is part of the recently installed Labour administration’s pledge to involve a wider range of people in decision making and to ensure major developments meet the needs of residents.
This includes refocussing the long-delayed development of the former bus station site in Hanley away from building a 3,700-seat arena. The new plan for Etruscan Square will, it is believed, involve more housing and the creation of a “versatile space for sports, leisure and entertainment”.
Jane Ashworth said the review would help the council to “determine what the best type of music and entertainment venue would be to complement the existing places in the city and ensure it can meet demand and be a viable venue.”
The council will be working with well-known local music promoter Mike Lloyd, who was awarded an OBE in 2022 for his lifelong contribution to the industry.
Speaking about his new role he said he was “delighted to be asked to undertake a comprehensive review of the city’s venues by council leader Jane Ashworth. This hasn’t been done previously and it’s vitally important to establish this as a base for highlighting the gaps in performing art space provision in the city. This will enable the council to take a balanced view of future requirements. It will be a privilege to complete this project.”
The review will take place during January and details of its findings will be shared later in the year.