LIVE today published the LIVE Music Manifesto, marking the first time the live music industry has presented Government with a comprehensive range of solutions to unleash the sector’s potential.
LIVE was born in the crisis of the pandemic and though its effects are still felt, it is other matters that are now holding us back.
It is no secret that it’s at the grassroots that the challenges are most severe, but the industry is also dealing with issues such as well-intentioned but ill-formed legislation on safety at venues, an internationally uncompetitive and unfair system of VAT and business rates, barriers to international touring, and ticketing issues, all while navigating the transition to net zero.
There’s also rising political uncertainty as we head into a likely General Election in 2024. Next week, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will make one of this Government’s final tax and spending announcements in the Autumn Statement. It is critical that the live music industry’s voice is heard ahead of it.
LIVE’s Manifesto sets out a clear agenda for Government to support live music businesses across the UK to overcome these challenges and prosper for the long term. The Manifesto is vital because it provides an urgent blueprint about how to protect grassroots venues and enable the industry as a whole to unleash its economic potential.
“Live music’s success has a positive multiplier effect for the country as a whole”
The manifesto covers five priority areas:
1. Provide urgent financial support, including an extension to grassroots music venues business rates relief and wider hospitality and leisure relief.
2. Rethink the current Bill on safety at venues, known as Martyn’s Law, to ensure any new measures are practical and protect lives.
3. Remove the barriers for UK artists to tour internationally, including by introducing a cultural visa waiver for creative workers touring in the EU.
4. Protect fans by bringing UK ticketing regulations into line with other progressive music markets.
5. Accelerate the sector’s transition to net zero through funding and information provision to fill any current shortfall.
The Manifesto presents a huge opportunity for political leaders to supercharge the live music industry. We need to consistently make the case to Government and opposition parties that the live music sector has a value, culturally and economically, that cannot be underestimated. It is part of the fabric of who we are, producing world class artists and providing enjoyment for millions of people.
As everyone in this industry knows, more gigs mean more economic activity. It is estimated that for every 10,000 people at a gig in the UK, there is an additional £1 million spent in other local businesses, so live music’s success has a positive multiplier effect for the country as a whole.
Simple interventions like the extension of the business rates relief for grassroots venues and a return to lower VAT to bring the UK into line with international competitors would transform the sector.
As we all know, there are also grave risks to inaction. We need politicians to wake up to the reality that the grassroots venues where artists like Ed Sheeran and Adele honed their craft are closing at an alarming rate. Government needs to recognise just how important these venues are, not just as the breeding ground for the next generation of young musicians, but also as proud, creative, hubs for the communities they serve across the country.
It’s crucial that the voice of the live music sector is heard at the next General Election. Urgent action is needed now.
Join in support of our campaign by using the hashtag #LIVEmusicchampion.
Jon Collins is CEO of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment), the voice of the UK’s live music and entertainment business.
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