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UK industry calls for clarity, timetable for reopenings

To avert disaster, the UK live biz needs clear guidance on when events may return, as well as tax relief and continued financial support, says the UK Live Music Group

By IQ on 08 May 2020

London's Wireless is among a number of festivals to have cancelled their 2020 editions

London's Wireless is among a number of UK festivals to have cancelled their 2020 editions

image © Festival Republic

Nearly a billion pounds will be wiped off the value of the UK music industry without immediate government action to support the live sector, industry leaders have warned.

Thousands of jobs will be lost and the British music business – which formerly contributed £5.2bn a year to the UK economy – will suffer £900 million (€1bn) in losses from the impact of coronavirus without urgent state support, the UK Live Music Group has said.

The group, which sits within trade body UK Music as the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, is calling for, among other measures, clarity on when live events will be allowed to return – as has already happened in many European countries, including the Netherlands, Norway and Spain – as well as any social-distancing protocols that will need to remain place when they do.

As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, three quarters of the industry’s workforce is furloughed, with little certainty about when their jobs might return.

“We’ll need more support from government to survive”

In addition to job losses, the impact of Covid-19 means that further government support is also necessary to prevent more than 550 grassroots music venues going under, according to the group. Additionally, a recent Association of Independent Festivals survey found that 92% of its members, chiefly small and mid-sized summer events, are facing imminent collapse.

The group has identified the following areas in which government help is needed:

  • A continuation of all existing employment schemes and business support packages until the live music industry recovers
  • Value-added tax (VAT) breaks on ticket sales for a minimum of 18 months (to give festivals, concerts and live events time to see the results)
  • Additional financial support to ensure that landlords provide rent-free periods to music-venue tenants
  • Extension of business rate relief to the entire live music supply chain, include service companies and sound and lighting suppliers
  • Clear guidance about when professionally run, licensed events can resume, in order to allow operators to properly plan a recovery
  • Clarity around social distancing which takes into account the range of different venue sizes, some of whom may not be able to reopen until measures are further relaxed

Newly appointed UK Music chair Tom Watson says: “The music industry is really hurting. Parts of the sector are effectively on life support and will need a sustained package of help from the government to survive.

“The support for our world-leading industry must continue”

“The music industry has joined forces and is doing its best to look after its people through a fantastic network of hardship funds. As the world slowly emerges from the international lockdown, the UK cannot afford to leave behind its economy-boosting music industry. We’ll need more support from government to survive and remain a long-term contributor to the economy.

“If we are to nurture the next generation of British stars like Adele, Stormzy and Ed Sheeran, we need the government to listen and act to ensure our music industry remains the envy of the world.”

“The government must not abandon the music industry, which is such a vital part of our economy, culture and social fabric,” adds Lucy Noble, artistic and commercial director of the Royal Albert Hall and chair of the National Arenas Association.

“The support for our world-leading industry must continue until we have a chance to get back on our feet.”


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