Make Space For Music

Finding a suitable and affordable local space as a venue for regular music activity has become ever harder. What can be done? Making Music’s #MakeSpaceForMusic campaign provides a focus for actions on this growing issue.

We’ve had increasing anecdotal reports of price hikes and decreasing availability of spaces for rehearsals, workshops and music learning that are impacting on our members activity. This has been confirmed by looking at our own data – gathered in our Big Survey 2022, and in a small pilot questionnaire – and at events we’ve held to discuss this. Reports from a Creative Lives survey, and by representatives for community and village halls also confirmed what we’ve been hearing.

Time to take action

Financial pressures have been mounting on all types of community spaces for ten years or more. The impact of Covid accentuated them, perhaps accelerating some to close down (e.g. social clubs, churches). Local authorities and councils have struggled financially, too, so closures or deterioration of spaces through neglect have also increased.

Halls are also often managed by volunteers, many of whom, exhausted by Covid, have given up. Potential additional regulation such as that in the UK government’s Terrorism draft bill could be the final straw for many.

Because of these pressures, another cause of the crisis now needs addressing urgently: the lack of understanding, by local policymakers in particular, of the importance and value of community spaces. They are not joining the dots between goals of regeneration and improving residents’ health and well-being, and this crucial local infrastructure.

What can be done?

The #MakeSpaceForMusic campaign is a focus for activity, with actions Making Music and music groups can take. We are starting with four in Autumn 2023.

  1. We will help music groups make the case for their activity to building owners who may not know what they need for their activity and what benefits there are for them in hosting a music group, by providing a short document for groups to use.
  2. Making Music will work to reach building owners with this same information via their networks or ultimate owners, e.g. community halls via Community Matters, or churches through their governing authority. 
  3. We are also organising a Community Spaces Forum bringing networks of building owners together to connect them and share challenges.
  4. We will produce a short briefing for policy makers which explains how leisure-time music groups operate, which points to evidence articulating their benefits and outlines what infrastructure music groups need to flourish. We will share that with music groups, to use in conversations with their local or national representatives. Making Music will disseminate this briefing to the relevant UK or national departments, ministers and civil servants.

#MakeSpaceForMusic flyer

We've created a flyer that you can take to a space you already use or one you are looking to encourage hiring to community groups. Download and print it below, or share the link electronically.

Download flyer

#MakeSpaceForMusic briefing paper

We’ve written a paper to brief those who influence decisions and policy making at all levels of government about our campaign. Levels of government could be parish/town councils, local authorities, devolved governments and UK government. Decision and policy makers could be elected representatives (MPs, members of devolved parliaments, councillors), candidates for those roles standing in elections, or the civil servants that work for councils and governments. You can send this paper on to those you are in contact with, or you can use the briefing to create and inform your own case, specific to your local area.

Download briefing paper

#MakeSpaceForMusic webinar recording

On 16 February 2024, we held a guest speaker event to raise awareness about the #MakeSpaceForMusic campaign and encourage our members to get involved. We talked about the key messages of the campaign, and how to talk to decision makers, elected representative and election candidates about why this issue is so vital for music groups. We also touched upon the Community Spaces Forum we hosted in October 2024, and how to widen out your search for the perfect space. We welcomed expert guest speaker Thorsten Dreyer, the Programme Manager for the Greater London Authority’s Culture and Community Spaces at Risk programme, which supports organisations at acute and immediate risk of losing the space they operate from. They talked about how we you can take action when your music spaces are threatened.

Watch webinar

To follow #MakeSpaceForMusic, sign up to our newsletter and campaign emails, and bookmark this page to find out about updates.

Music group data

Top 3 types of spaces for music groups to meet regularly 

  • churches/ church halls (54%)
  • schools/ other educational establishments (21%)
  • community or village halls (15%)

These are used by 90% of groups. Others include: Local Authority owned space, cultural venue, private club/hall (e.g. social club), residences (e.g. private home, care home)

(Data from Making Music Big Survey of members, October 2022)

Hire costs (2022)

Small groups (up to 35 people), 60% paid between £6-£20 an hour
Average - £20.11 instrumental, £19.05 vocal

Medium groups (36-70 people), 66% paid £11-£30 an hour 
Average - £31.58 instrumental, £28.18 vocal

Large groups (71-120 people), 62% paid £21-£60 an hour
Average - £61.78 instrumental, £45.81 vocal

(Data from Making Music Big Survey of members, October 2022)

Top issues

  • Availability
  • Cost
  • Large activity needs (incl. chairs, toilets)
  • Musical needs (incl. acoustics, storage, practice access)
  • Access (public transport, disabled access)

Is this issue affecting your music group? Do you have a story to share about the lack of availability of venues? Let us know by e-mailing us at info@makingmusic.org.uk