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Soaring MDF prices, extortionate interval drinks, cash-strapped audiences: the arts are staring inflation in the face | Charlotte Higgins

Just putting the lights on is staggeringly expensive. How many of our venues can survive this?


Imagine a small music venue. There are many such places dotted around the UK, the sort of spot where you might catch an up-and-coming band, some folk or jazz, the occasional standup comedian. I’m thinking of a real venue, capacity 500, in the south of England. There’s nowhere else to see live music in this town, and it’s been going for decades. Only it may not be around for much longer. It’s just had its electricity bill, from the largely state-owned French company EDF (fill in your own ironies). That bill is 640% higher than the last one.

There’s no energy price cap for businesses such as this – that’s just for households. They’ve pulled in a broker to try to get them a better rate, without success. The extra £31,000 for putting the lights on is more than what the boss is paid. They’re worried that if they go public, the landlord and their suppliers will panic and pull the plug. Which really would be the end.

Charlotte Higgins is the Guardian’s chief culture writer

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