Lockdown easing delay is ‘devastating’ for live music industry with risk ‘as real as it was in April 2020’, industry warns

·3-min read
 (Lee Blanchflower/Unsplash)
(Lee Blanchflower/Unsplash)

A four-week delay to the final lifting of lockdown in England is “devastating” to the nation’s live music scene, an industry body has said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce later today that the June 21 unlocking will be pushed back by four weeks to July 19, after the BBC reported that senior ministers had signed off on the extension.

It means that venues will have to wait at least another month until they can start hosting full capacity gigs again. Currently, indoor venues can only welcome up to 1,000 people, or half their capacity, whichever is lower.

Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, a body that speaks on behalf of the “UK’s live music ecosystem”, said: “Our research shows that a delay of a month would lead to the cancellation of over 5,000 planned events costing our industry hundreds of millions of pounds.

“Live music fears being left behind and irreversibly damaged as countries such as the Netherlands, Demark, Israel, the United States and Belgium announce they will begin running large full-capacity live events this summer.”

Watch: Lockdown restrictions: What is changing, what is staying the same and why?

The Government had previously run a number of pilot events as part of its Events Research Programme, to study ways in which large-scale gigs could resume safely. In Liverpool, 11,000 people were tested for Covid before and after attending a mini festival and two club nights, with only 11 cases recorded afterwards.

Mr Parmley added: “The Government said the Events Research Programme would give us the evidence we needed to open safely. We have spent the last three months participating in, and paying for, full capacity pilot events that gave us this evidence.

“To protect the future of our industry we are calling for full transparency from the Government, for them to release the full report that proves how we can open safely and to work with us to give everyone the summer of music we all want.”

Speaking on June 11, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) warned that an extension of the roadmap would need to be “carefully managed” by the Government, and that “failure to take immediate action to support the sector could tip many hundreds of grassroots music venues into the abyss”.

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, said: “The issue is not simply about a delay in re-opening or lifting restrictions. It may on the surface look like a short and manageable pause. But there is no provision in place to bridge the resultant funding gap should this occur. Without some certainty on exactly when grassroots music venues can start trading at full capacity again the majority of the sector, already barely surviving on life support, could flat line.

“This is not an exaggeration; with no funding in place to mitigate any delay in reopening we will see mass evictions and foreclosures by landlords and creditors who ran out of patience a long time ago. The risk of business closures, widespread redundancies and the decimation of our sector is as real now as it was in April 2020.”

Mr Davyd added that the Government should “immediately release” the extra £300m it has allocated to support the cultural sector when it announces the delay, and “ensure confidence with a clear statement that they won’t let grassroots music venues go to the wall”.

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