To the Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng MP,
Following two hugely disrupted years of closures, cancellations and government restrictions, live music is once again bringing joy to communities across the UK.
This summer saw one of the biggest weekends of live music in the country’s history with an estimated one million fans flocking to world-famous festivals, classical concerts and grassroots gigs over the space of 48 hours.
The UK is world-leading when it comes to live music, its creation and delivery. But our industry is facing unprecedented challenges.
Sky-rocketing operating costs combined with energy bill increases of up to 1,700% and pressure on disposable income are closing the doors on live music spaces at an alarming rate. Gigs, festivals and tours are being postponed while, according to the Music Venue Trust, at least 300 grassroots venues risk permanent closure.
The energy crisis is just the latest in a range of impacts on our vibrant sector
These domestic pressures come at a time when live music touring is proving both costly and complex, which is especially harmful to artists who are at the start of their careers. In 2019, UK music exports were valued at £2.9bn with UK artists headlining four of the top ten grossing tours. Unfortunately, the costs and complexity of touring post-Brexit put this at risk.
And this does not just affect our venues and events. Every lost gig, festival or venue jeopardises a highly specialised supply chain, puts skilled jobs at risk and leaves our talented artists without opportunities to profit from their creativity. We cannot afford to lose our live music sector, which generates an estimated £4.5 billion every year for the UK economy and whose talented artists and crews are the envy of the world.
While today’s energy announcement goes some way to alleviate that risk, as soon as this support is removed, we will again face the threat of widespread closure. The energy crisis is just the latest in a range of impacts on our vibrant sector.
We need your help.
With our industry still hurting from the aftereffects of Covid and rising costs across the supply chain, we continue to make the case that our sector needs additional support from government – if we are to keep all concert halls, arenas, festivals, and grassroots music venues open, we need movement on VAT and business rates.
If we are to keep all venues open, we need movement on VAT and business rates
An emergency reintroduction of the 5% VAT rate on live music ticket sales would keep people employed, venues and festivals open, and money flowing back into local economies as fans flock to gigs.
Based on 2021 figures, the reintroduction of 5% VAT on tickets sales would cost just £150 million in the first year. Funds used by industry to expand the event roster and mitigate cost pressures on ticket prices. This additional activity would generate a further £12om spend at venues – safeguarding thousands of jobs, keeping hundreds of venues open, generating incremental tax revenues and getting millions of pounds flowing into local economies. It would also build on other sectoral interventions such as Theatre Tax Relief and Orchestra Tax Relief, which are helping the sector bounce back post-pandemic.
Running this intervention for just three short years would mitigate some of the huge overhanging pressures the industry faces post-Brexit and Covid, while making live music events more accessible at a time when the country needs it most.
It’s over to you to ensure the UK’s live music sector has a vibrant future, helping us all to reap the cultural, economic, and social value music brings to the country – and to the world at large.
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