Levy plan

Ticket tax would help save music venues, say Greens

Taylor Swift fans at Murrayfield Edinburgh (pic: Terry Murden / DB Media Services)

Charging fans a levy on tickets for the biggest gigs, such as Taylor Swift’s Eras tour, could help transform Scotland’s music and culture sector, say the Scottish Greens.

Mark Ruskell, the party’s culture spokesperson, suggested that a £1 fee on stadium gigs could raise £1 million a year for grassroots venues.

Figures by campaigners the Music Venue Trust show that the number of spaces closing has increased from one in 2021 and five in 2022 to 14 in 2023. 

Mr Ruskell made the suggestion as megastar Taylor Swift performs to more than 200,000 people attending three concerts at Murrayfield across this weekend.

Tickets have been selling for four figures, with some Swifties paying more than £4,000 to get a glimpse of the icon.

The tour will give a much-needed boost to the Edinburgh economy, with hotel and short-let accommodation charging more than double normal rates.

The average fan will be spending more than  £120 on accommodation, £110 on travel and £56 on food.

Dan Coatsworth, an investment analyst at AJ Bell, said: “Swiftonomics is in full motion. Suggestions she might be responsible for a near-£1bn boost to the UK economy could prove to be an understatement.”

However, one merchandise seller outside the stadium reported that sales of hats and other items were slow. “Most of the fans are dressed up when they arrive,” he said.

Mr Ruskell said: “A small £1 charge on the biggest stadium-packing gigs like Taylor Swift at Murrayfield could have a transformative impact on our industry and our culture.

Stadium sponsor Scottish Gas has been renamed to mark the star’s Scottish roots (pic: Terry Murden)

“It is fantastic news for fans that the world’s top pop star has come to Scotland. Yet, all over Scotland, there are fantastic artists and music venues who are feeling the strain like never before.

“There are iconic venues that have provided a starting ground for some of the biggest artists in the world.  We need to stand with them and support them, otherwise we risk losing them for good.“

One venue that has been saved after its recent closure is The Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, which has been acquired by a social enterprise. It has beaten its crowdfunding target of £35,000 in just eight days, described by one regular as “quite phenomenal”.

The bar in Chambers Street closed suddenly in April and was saved by Nick and Justyna Mushlin, a husband and wife team with decades of experience and deep connections to the club.

It is being run as a not-for-profit enterprise and after the quicker than expected fund-raising is expected to reopen in July.

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