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Arena operator ASM Global announces new support for grassroots venues

By | Published on Thursday 22 June 2023

ASM Global

Venue operator ASM Global has announced plans to provide financial and other support to grassroots venues in the UK via a partnership with the Music Venue Trust. And that includes a commitment to match Enter Shikari’s one-pound-per-ticket donation when they play the Wembley Arena next February.

MVT has been increasingly vocal of late about the need for the upper end of the live sector to do more to support grassroots venues, where the next generation of music stars, who will play arenas and stadiums in the future, hone their craft and build an initial fanbase.

That has always been part of MVT’s agenda, though the need for such support has arguably increased since the pandemic, with the top end of the live music business getting back to normal much quicker than the grassroots and mid-tier.

One specific proposal from MVT is that for every ticket sold to an arena show – and especially for shows at newly constructed arena venues – a donation should be made to the grassroots venue network. Earlier this year Enter Shikari announced they would do just that with the arena shows they are playing around the UK next year.

ASM Global – created in 2019 by the merger of AEG Facilities and SMG – operates a big network of venues around world, including lots of arenas and stadiums. Among the venues it operates in the UK are the AO Arena in Manchester, the First Direct Arena in Leeds, the OVO Hydro in Glasgow, the P&J Arena in Aberdeen, the Sage Arena in Gateshead, the Utility Arena in Newcastle, and the OVO Arena Wembley in London.

It said yesterday that it would now support grassroots venues through a combination of donations, training and marketing. The financial support will include “one-off initiatives”, such as the commitment that “OVO Arena Wembley will match Enter Shikari’s £1 per ticket sold donation to the Music Venue Trust when they play in February 2024”.

“There will also be opportunities for additional fundraising activity for grassroots music venues via tickets for events at ASM Global venues”, plus “ASM Global will also make equipment and furniture in need of a new home available to grassroots music venues that need it”.

“Training will play a pivotal role in this commitment”, the venue operator added. “with ASM Global offering access to training either online or in its venues. As an industry leader, ASM Global has developed extensive, industry leading training that includes health and safety, food safety, hygiene, cybersecurity, as well as wider topics such as mental health, equality and diversity, and social media awareness”.

As for the marketing support, ASM Global says that it will seek to help boost the profile of grassroots venues based in the cities where it operates arenas by promoting said venues in its buildings, through its customer emails and on social media.

Commenting on all this, ASM Global’s Commercial Director and SVP Europe, Tom Lynch, says: “At ASM Global, we are very aware and concerned about the unprecedented cost pressures facing grassroots music venues, and in turn, the knock-on pressures placed on the pipeline of talent for the rest of the live music industry”.

“Grassroots music venues are the lifeblood of our cultural fabric and where much of society truly falls in love with music for the first time”, he goes on. “As a team, we have always admired the passion and hard work of Music Venue Trust, in providing a voice to grassroots music venues and creating a framework for vital support to keep the music playing”.

MVT CEO Mark Davyd adds: “We want to thank ASM Global for being the first arena operators to respond to our call for support from the live music industry to deal with the crisis engulfing grassroots music venues”.

“This is an incredibly important first step”, he continues, “towards ensuring that when an artist emerges from the grassroots sector, everyone shares in the success they generate once they reach the very top of the industry. We look forward to developing this important relationship”.