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Mental Health First Aid for Music Venue Trust

Clara Cullen from Music Venue Trust writes about the MVT Venue Support Team attending the online Mental Health First Aid course from Tonic Rider.



Music Venue Trust is a charity founded in 2014 with the mission to protect, secure and improve Grassroots Music Venues across the UK. Serving as the voice of the Music Venues Alliance, an association of over 800 venues from across the UK, Music Venue Trust works to support these vital cultural spaces.


At the heart of our efforts is Music Venue Trust’s Emergency Response Service. The service provides advice to venue operators who are experiencing a myriad of challenges. From noise complaints to re-development, financial strains to complicated lease negotiations, MVT’s Venue Support Team works with venue operators every day to address these challenges with the long-term aim of preventing venues from closing.


Reflecting on the past year, 2023 was an uphill struggle for many Grassroots Music Venues. Rising rents, increased stock costs, decreasing spend per head and a general economic downturn within the sector at large, have collectively led to the closure of 125 Grassroots Music Venues across a 12-month period. Amidst these challenges the need for our Emergency Response Service has never been more vital.


In 2023 MVT’s Emergency Response Service experienced a surge in cases surpassing any previous year. The work of the Venue Support Team is at its core one of support and service. Supporting venue operators to navigate very challenging periods is intrinsically personal and heavy work. The team might take a call thinking it is to help give support on a practical issue like a noise complaint and then watch how it intersects with themes of stress, burn-out or depression.


In response to the increase in cases, and recognising the impact of this work on the team, every member of the Venue Support Team undertook Mental Health First Aid training from our new partner, Tonic Rider. This course equipped us with the core principles of Mental Health First Aid training, enabling us to identify signs that someone might be experiencing a mental health crisis and guide us in responding in a considered and appropriate manner. This newfound confidence and awareness has empowered us to better be able to support venue operators when they come into the Emergency Response Service.


The closure of a Grassroots Music Venue does not represent a singular loss to each venue operator but a deeper collective loss to local communities, aspiring musicians, artists and crew as well as the wider live music industry at large. Grassroots Music Venues are not just bricks and mortar buildings. They are places where artists and musicians get their first chances to perform live, hone their stage craft and build local fanbases. They are also spaces that communities feel deeply connected to, places where you meet your future partner or find your own tribe. It is important to recognise that behind these venues are the people who run them - individuals whose passion, attentiveness and care have created corners of culture that have shaped lives. As Joe Strummer aptly put it ‘Without People, You’re Nothing’. In undergoing Mental Health First Aid training the Venue Support Team can now continue to support Grassroots Music Venues and the people that create our shared culture.


Music Venue Trust Peer Support Group

As part of the partnership between Tonic Rider and Music Venue Trust, we are providing an online Peer Support Group exclusively for operators and staff of grassroots music venues. Starting on Thursday 29th February (1:00pm-2:30pm), this Peer Support Group aims to support grassroots music venues by providing an open space for operators and staff to share their experiences. Adam Ficek will be facilitating the group.


To register your interest for this MVT Peer Support Group, please click the below.


Clara said as part of the announcement of the Peer Support Group

“Working in live music can be very stressful, often involving long hours that can put strain on important relationships.

Music Venue Trust is proud to be collaborating with Tonic Rider to create a Peer Support Group specifically for grassroots music venue operators.


With a focus on improving mental health these Peer Support Groups will support the sector to create a more resilient grassroots music ecosystem for everyone working in venue.”


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