Gary Roden Resigns Amid Co-op Live Arena Delays and Critique of Grassroots Venue Management

Gary Roden has resigned as general manager of the new Co-op Live Arena after delays in opening the venue have attracted criticism. This comes only a few days after Roden told the BBC that some grassroots venues were “poorly run” and that Co-op Live would not take part in the Music Venue Trust pipeline investment fund.

The 23,500-capacity venue has been forced to postpone gigs by comedian Peter Kay for the second time. There were also problems on the first show there, with up to 4,000 tickets cancelled, some one hour before the show. The venue had planned to open three days ago but that has been moved to May.

Roden had told the BBC that he was aware the MVT £1 ticket levy was a “hot topic,” but said that this approach was “too simplistic.” He said that the government should offer more help to grassroots venues and that talent pipeline problems involve more than just those small venues. He also argued that new acts make their names on social media or TV.

The BBC reported that, while acknowledging the financial pressures facing small venues, Roden said that some are poorly run and there’s no robust system to decide who would get the subsidy.

Roden said the new arena would give £1m a year to the Co-op Foundation charity, which helps a range of causes and will work with smaller venues on things like training.

“If the conversation stops being ‘Give me a quid’ and quite aggressive,” Roden told the BBC, “if it changed to be, ‘What can we do together to help?’, that’s where I think we start to get into that apprenticeship conversation and all those different things that we want to work through.

“We’ve got a list of ideas that we’re currently forming, and I think once we’ve been open six months or a year we’ll be really able to add something very significant to the grassroots system in Manchester.”

In response, the MVT told NME it was “disrespectful and disingenuous to suggest” small venues were poorly run.

“Obviously, the irony of making ill-judged, unnecessary and misleading comments about grassroots music venues on the day that the launch of their new arena has unfortunately fallen into such difficulties is not lost on anyone in the music industry, on artists, or on audiences.”

A Co-op Live statement thanked Roden for his “help bringing the UK’s newest arena to live entertainment fans” and wished him “the best for the future”. 

Co-op Live say they are appointing Rebecca Kane Burton, who previously ran London’s O2 Arena, as the interim general manager.

Sleeve Notes

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