After months of uncertainty, conflicting political briefings and careful planning from the industry, today’s announcement of a delay to Step 4 of the Government’s roadmap comes as a hammer blow to the live music industry.
There remains uncertainty over whether the industry should plan to restart later in summer or not at all, whether there will still be requirements for limited capacity, and how the Government plans to support the sector financially as it remains closed over the following weeks.
July is one of the biggest months for the live music season, with millions of fans traditionally attending events across the country. If the Government is to avoid decimating the live music industry long term, it must set out a clear plan so that industry is able to stage large scale events safely, as we learn to live with the new normal outside the grip of the worst impacts of the pandemic.
This must start with the publication of the Events Research Programme findings – which demonstrated through events such as the BRIT Awards at the O2 and an outdoor festival event in Liverpool for 5,000 people, that a simple Covid-certification system with the right mitigations and risk assessments results in safe events for those attending.
LIVE remains astounded that the findings have never published in full, given their centrality to the reopening of live events. This data must be published immediately so that the sector is able to see on what basis the Government is making decisions about the industry’s future, and so that we can play a collaborative role in future proofing live events for years to come.
If there is to be a one-month delay, the Government must spend that time ensuring there is a simple Covid certification scheme in place by the end of it to ensure that full capacity events can go ahead, as they are now doing in other countries such the US, Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands.
Businesses remain unable to plan or proceed in any meaningful way, leaving them hamstrung as part of an industry in limbo. With hundreds of millions of pounds of the Culture Recovery Fund left unallocated within Government, this needs to be pushed out to the music and live entertainment industries urgently to tide the sector over until a concrete way forward is agreed.
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, said:
“Following more than a year of confusion, lost revenue and cancellations, we are devastated the Government has not set out any clear path for the restart of the live music industry. The Government has been quick to talk up the success of the vaccine rollout, but other countries are now ahead of us in opening up full capacity events with simple Covid certification processes, including the Netherlands, Belgium and the US.
“The Government must also provide urgent emergency financial support to those impacted by today’s decision. There are hundreds of millions of pounds from the much-vaunted Culture Recovery Fund unallocated, despite being 15 months on from the start of the crisis. This money needs to get into the industry without any more delay.”
Lucy Noble, Chair of the National Arenas Association said:
“It is devastating for the live music sector that we continue to be hit with arbitrary restrictions which make live events unviable. The Events Research Group pilot events were supposed to be the key to getting back to full capacity live performance, and we understand that there were only 15 cases out of 58,000 attendees – although government is refusing to either publish the full report or to allow the sector to open up with the carefully planned precautions which we have been planning and putting in place for months.”
Jonathan Brown, Chief Executive, Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers said:
“STAR’s members will once again work tirelessly to help ensure that disappointed fans still get to see the events they have booked for, if they can be rescheduled. However, the consequence of this further delay to full re-opening on all corners of the live entertainment industries needs urgent recognition and Government support if there is not to be irrevocable damage to a major employer, accounting for tens of thousands of jobs, a major revenue provider contributing billions of pounds to the Exchequer, and a globally recognised flagship of the UK’s cultural and tourism offering.”
Paul Reed, Chief Executive, Association of Independent Festivals said:
“AIF understands the rationale for delaying Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. However, any measures that prevent festivals from operating fully have to be counterbalanced with effective support to ensure businesses can survive. For those festival organisers that still have a chance of staging events after July 19, that support is Government-backed insurance, which will give them the confidence to continue planning and commit the significant costs that entails. We also must not forget those festivals that have already been forced to cancel or will do so as a result of the delay – they will need a swift and comprehensive financial package to help them survive until the 2022 sales cycle.”
Andy Lenthall, General Manager, Production Services Association said:
“The live events sector has worked tirelessly with Government to create guidance and run self-funded test events to ensure a safe return to full opening, there has been no data that shows a well organised event is more dangerous than going to a supermarket, a cricket match or singing in the enclosed concourse at Wembley Stadium. It is abundantly clear that current increases in cases are not connected with live events, yet this sector is being harmed further by the delayed return to activity.
“Our members, the suppliers to well organised, professional live events, have once again been left without any indication of how they will be supported whilst the sectors they serve are shuttered by Government.”
Greg Marshall, General Manager, Association for Electronic Music said:
“The Government decision to delay all clubs and live events re-opening at full capacity for another month seems out-of-step with preliminary findings from the Events Research Programme which indicate that events can return safely if the correct safety protocols are in place. This delay will seriously impact the sector and must be accompanied by effective financial support for the businesses and individuals affected.”
Mark Davyd, Chief Executive, Music Venues Trust said:
“The government needs to act immediately to prevent hundreds of potential grassroots music venue closures. That action must be swift and robust, getting financial support to people who desperately need it, extending repayment options for loans, cancelling Business Rates and extending support schemes such as furlough and SEISS. The government has made a decision that places jobs, livelihoods, businesses and premises at risk, the government can manage that damage by decisive action that restores confidence to the sector.”
Phil Bowdery, Chair of the Concert Promoters Association said:
“The live events scene was set to be the pinnacle of the UK’s summer at home and we are devastated that the Government has yet again left us in limbo, with no indication of when or how we will be able to restart.
“We’ve made clear through the Events Research Programme that with the right precautions, large scale events can be staged safely, which is why the Government now needs to publish the findings so that we can get on and deliver. The remaining funding from the Culture Recovery Fund must also be distributed as promised, offering a life raft for industry until we can fully reopen.”