Text By Dawoud Kringle
Music Venue Trust is a UK based network of grassroots music venues and their supporters. Their base concept, Agent of Change, was first introduced into the music scene in Australia, and then, three years ago, into the UK. Agent of Change is a term that is used to describe various approaches to controlling the relationship between newly built development (typically residential), and extant noise sources (typically, music venues).
The Agent of Change campaign believes that the cornerstone of the UK music industry is under threat and needs protection. Music venues are threatened with closure because of changes in planning laws to encourage residents to move into town centers. This change in policy was originally intended to address housing shortages (specifically, offices, car parks and disused buildings to be converted into residences. The problem arose with the UK’s music venues being next door to those offices and car parks. Music venues were subsequently forced to fight noise complaints, abatement notices and planning applications. The locations of the venues were deliberately chosen so that the music wouldn’t create problems for residents. With the aforementioned housing policy changes, residents made complaints about sound. The problem was exacerbated by the fact that the developers of the residential properties have no legal obligation to soundproof these new residences. UK law mandates that the business or person making the noise is responsible for its management.