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170,000 UK live music jobs lost by end of 2020

More than 26,000 permanent jobs will be lost in the live music industry before the end of the year if government support is withdrawn, new research published today (21 October) reveals.

In addition, 144,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) roles, including self-employed and freelance workers, will have effectively ceased to exist by the end of 2020, the new report, UK live music: At a cliff edge, shows.

Revenue into the industry has been almost zero since March, with a fall of 81% in 2020 compared to 2019 – four times the national UK average, where reductions across industries run at around 20%.

At a cliff edge – conducted by Chris Carey and Tim Chambers for Media Insight Consulting on behalf of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment), an umbrella group representing the UK live music industry – also reveals the positive contribution made by the Culture Recovery Fund, which has offered a lifeline to a range of businesses, but whose impact is tempered by 80% of employees still being reliant on the furlough scheme, which ends this month.

The report’s findings include:

“This research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated”

Following the lockdown in March, and the ongoing government restrictions on venues and events, many of those working within the live music sector have received no income at all. The new tier-two and three restrictions put further limitations on the sector reopening, while the sector is currently excluded from the government’s extended Job Support Scheme.

With recent indications from the prime minister that severe restrictions could be in place for a further six months, meaning a full year with next-to-no live music or revenues, the associations represented by Live – including the Entertainment Agents’ Association, Association for Electronic Music (AFEM), Association of Festival Organisers (AFO), Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), Concert Promoters Association (CPA), Music Managers Forum (MMF), National Arenas Association (NAA), Production Services Association (PSA) and Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are calling on the government to ensure the live business can benefit from new support measures.

Phil Bowdery, CPA chair, comments: “We were one of the first sectors to close and we will be one of the last to reopen. We are currently caught in a catch 22, where we are unable to operate due to government restrictions but are excluded from the extended Job Support Scheme as the furlough comes to an end. If businesses can’t access that support soon, then the majority of our specialist, highly trained workforce will be gone.”

“Those who have often found themselves overlooked and left behind throughout the last six months are the freelancers and self-employed – the people up and do the country that we rely on to bring us the live experiences we love,” adds PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry and government needs to recognise that these crucial individuals need support.”

““Things are becoming increasingly desperate for a great many people in the industry”

Economist Chris Carey, who co-authored the report, says: “From the artists on stage, to the venues and the many specialist roles and occupations that make live music happen, this research shows clearly that the entire ecosystem is being decimated.”

The report includes sector-specific data on artists, managers, promoters, booking agents, venues, festivals, ticketing companies and technical suppliers, as well as case studies from some of those affected and comment from industry leaders.

“The Culture Recovery Fund is a help, especially to grassroots music venues,” continues Carey. “However, larger companies are going to be hit harder, and without ongoing government investment in protecting this industry, the UK will lose its place as a cultural leader in live entertainment.

“Moreover, the skills we lose in this time will significantly hinder the sector’s ability to recover and return to driving economic growth and supplying UK jobs.”

Download the report here.

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ IndexIQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

DCMS criticises “failure” of UK govt to support live

The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee has stated that the government’s support package for cultural industries came “too late for many”, and has called for further urgent sector-specific measures.

In the ‘Impact of Covid-19 on DCMS Sectors’ report, the committee states that the government’s recent £1.57 billion support package for the arts, while welcome, “will not be enough to stop mass redundancies and the permanent closure of our cultural infrastructure”.

In addition to the support package, which came after an intense day of lobbying from the UK live industry, the committee calls for an extension to the government’s furlough scheme – currently set to expire at the end of October – until mass gatherings are permitted; continued workforce support measures, including enhanced measures for freelancers and small companies; clear “if conditional” timelines for when events will be able to reopen, with a date for stage five of the government’s plan to reopen events set by 1 August at the latest; and “technological solutions”, such as app-based testing and tracking systems, to allow audiences to return without social distancing.

The committee also recommends the creation of a long-term pandemic reinsurance scheme, ensuring cultural industries are covered by “adequate insurance” in the future, as well as “long-term structural support” to rebuild audience figures, including sector-specific tax reliefs and a value-added tax (VAT) cut for the sector for the next three years. The British government has currently cut VAT on event tickets to 5% until the end of the year.

As for the previously announced funding, the committee demands the government “publish eligibility criteria and application guidance as soon as possible”, as well as “ensur[ing] that the funding reaches recipients no later than October 2020”.

“To reduce uncertainty, the government must publish eligibility criteria  as soon as possible”

The DCMS committee is calling for “sector-specific versions” of the current job retention and self-employed income support schemes to be implemented by October 2020 “at the latest” and kept open until income returns to “sustainable levels”. The committee notes that existing support schemes, such as the self-employed income support scheme and coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, do not cover many working in the live industry.

The report also points out that a large number of festivals, outdoor events and city centre venues have also been unable to access grants earmarked for the retail, hospitality and leisure industries, as the scheme requires businesses to occupy properties with a certain rateable value.

Using data gathered from across the live industry, the committe highlights the threats posed to the UK’s venues and festivals, with over 90% of grassroot music venues in Britain currently face permanent closure, as estimated by the Music Venue Trust (MVT), and the 23 UK arenas making up the National Arenas Association set to lose almost £235m in ticket sales over a six-month period.

As for the festival sector, the report state that: “The seasonality of the industry means that cancellations over spring and summer mean a complete loss of income for the year ahead, which could have devastating consequences for the SMEs and self-employed workers in the live events supply chain.”

The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) has previously stated that 92% of its member festivals are facing permanent collapse.

“We are witnessing the biggest threat to our cultural landscape in a generation,” comments DCMS committee chair Julian Knight.

“We are witnessing the biggest threat to our cultural landscape in a generation”

“The failure of the government to act quickly has jeopardised the future of institutions that are part of our national life and the livelihoods of those who work for them. Our report points to a department that has been treated as a ‘Cinderella’ by government when it comes to spending, despite the enormous contribution that the DCMS sectors make to the economy and job creation.

“We can see the damaging effect that has had on the robustness and ability of these areas to recover from the Covid crisis. We urge the government to act on our recommendations, to recognise the value these sectors provide and imagine how much bleaker the outcome for all without their survival.”

Representatives from across the UK live industry have welcomed the DCMS recommendations. UK Music acting CEO Tom Kiehl has called the document a “watershed report in the fight for survival for many companies and individuals working across the music industry.”

“We fully support the conclusions of today’s important report and want to send out thanks to the committee for recognising the value in our industry,” comments Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters Association and executive president of Live Nation.

“This report demonstrates that a sector-specific deal to support the industry, conditional timelines for reopening without social distancing and long-term structural support are going to be vital in ensuring the survival of the live music in the UK.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government to ensure that the entire sector can be supported through this time.”

“This report demonstrates that a sector-specific deal to support the industry is going to be vital in ensuring the survival of the live music in the UK”

Mark Davyd, CEO of MVT, commends the recognition of the “urgency of short-term measures to prevent the catastrophic loss of vital infrastructure”, as well as more long-term measures aimed at “restor[ing] the sector to health and to future proof it against threats”.

From a production point of view, Andy Lenthall, general manager of the Production Services Association (PSA) says it is “hugely heartening” that the DCMS has recognised the “vital part” suppliers and technicians play in the cultural ecosystem.

AIF CEO Paul Reed similarly welcomes the findings of the report “which specifically acknowledges that the UK’s thriving festival and live events sector has been particularly badly hit by this crisis”.

“We’re particularly pleased to see that our recommendations for long-term relief, including extensions of existing employment support schemes and an extended VAT cut, have been taken onboard,” says Reed.

“We look forward to working further with DCMS to ensure that the festival sector, which generates £1.75bn for the UK economy and supports 85,000 jobs, can survive and continue to thrive into 2021 and beyond.”

The report is available to read in full here.

Photo: Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament (CC BY 3.0) (cropped)

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

“Catastrophic” EU plans would mean lights out for venues

Venues and industry associations across Europe have warned some of the continent’s best-loved music venues and theatres face a black-out post-2020, under plans to regulate stage lighting under the same environmental rules that govern those sold for domestic and office use.

The European Union (EU)’s proposed Ecodesign Working Plan 2016–2019 would require all new stage lighting – from traditional tungsten bulbs to the latest LED fixtures – to meet new efficiency targets, from which they are currently exempt. According to the UK’s Association of Lighting Designers (ALD), the new regulations, which are due to kick in on 1 September 2020, would “dramatically impact all areas of entertainment lighting and all who work in this field”, with the impact on live shows “immediate and overwhelming”.

The ALD, along with the Production Services Association (PSA), entertainment technology body Plasa and other industry groups, are calling for everyone who works in live entertainment to respond to the EU consultation on the new directive (scroll down to the section on lamps), which runs until next Monday (7 May).

The fight against the proposed regulations has also been taken up by venues across the continent, with the National Theatre in London, Cánovas Theatre in Malaga, Lliure Theatre in Barcelona, Civic Theatre in Dublin and Circo Price Theatre in Madrid all beaming the campaign’s official hashtag – #SaveStageLighting – on the exteriors of their buildings over the past few days.

“Professional stage lighting has always been exempt from the labelling regime, [but] that’s about to change,” explains PSA general manager Andy Lenthall. “Tungsten, halogen and other sources don’t get close” to the minimum ‘G’ rating which would be required for sale in Europe after 2020, he adds, while “sealed unit LEDs, in the main, fall foul”.

Lenthall tells IQ smaller venues would be disproportionately affected by the plans, with a phasing out of old-fashioned bulbs also forcing the complete – and costly – replacement of all components associated with older lighting systems.

“Have a think about smaller venues, theatres, schools, halls, community groups,” he continues. “If they have a perfectly serviceable load of par cans [parabolic aluminised reflector lights] with old-fashioned bulbs, they could probably get 30 years out of them by just changing bulbs. If those bulbs are not available, they’ll be forced to switch.

“The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry”

“For you and me at home, that’s just a different type of bulb in the same fixture. In a venue, that’s a new type of fixture, new dimmers and new controllers – the whole shooting match in one hit.”

In addition to the cost aspect of replacing lighting rigs – which initial projections put at £1.25 billion – the National Theatre says the proposed regulations, which require a minimum efficiency of 85 lumens per watt and a maximum standby power of 0.5W, “may mean that we can’t light our shows anymore”.

“While we are fully committed to improving sustainability in our industry, imposing these blunt measures on stage lighting will have a catastrophic artistic and financial effect on theatres all over the UK and throughout the EU,” reads a statement from the theatre.

“Productions like War Horse, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Follies and Angels in America could not be lit under these regulations.

“There is no existing equipment that could create any of the images you are familiar with from these productions that would be allowed under EU legislation.”

Pending any unexpected (and unrealistic) advances in lighting technology by 2020, the effect of the Working Plan, if implemented in its current form, would be to cause “thousands of venues, theatres and music festivals across the continent [to go] dark”, says the Save Stage Lighting Campaign.

While smaller venues would take a larger financial hit, Beyoncé lighting designer Tim Routledge points out that all venues, large and small, would be affected by the new rules, which are set to hit “every music venue, arena, music festival and touring concert production across Europe”.

“As a very well established lighting designer designing tours for acts such as Beyoncé, Sam Smith, Take That, ELO and many more, the news of this regulation is terrifying,” he writes in a letter to the Guardian. “Pretty much every single tool that we use as lighting designers will be rendered obsolete by these rules – incredible, as over the recent past as an industry we have adopted the latest in energy-saving LED technology and a lot of tours are totally LED.”

In addition to making an official objection, the ALD encourages everyone opposed to the plans to write to their local members of the European Parliament (MEPs) and sign the official petition, which currently has 36,957 of 50,000 signatures.

“It is absolutely essential that we are successful in our endeavour of securing an exemption for stage lighting from these proposals,” says the association, which recently published a primer to the 2020 regulations. “This has the potential to harm everyone from technicians, actors and designers to agents, critics and audience members.

“The consequences of failure would be catastrophic to the entertainment industry and European culture.”

 


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