Industry orgs urge gov support in face of Covid-19 [updating]
Music industry associations in a number of markets are calling on their respective governments for financial backing and relief measures in the wake of the damage coronavirus is causing to the business.
Umbrella bodies and promoters’ associations from Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Russia and the UK are among those to lobby their governments for assistance as covid-19 causes more event cancellations and temporary venue closures by the day.
Last updated 11.30 GMT on Friday 20 March. What is your association doing to tackle coronavirus? Email [email protected] to submit missing association information.
Live Performance Australia (LPA)
The LPA put forward a comprehensive AU$750 million (€413m) emergency support package to the Commonwealth, state and territory governments in Australia on 20 March.
“Today all of Australia’s peak bodies and the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA) stand united in calling for a clear commitment from government that it will adopt these measures, otherwise, it’s the final curtain for Australia’s world class live performance industry which has fostered generations of local and global talent,” comments LPA chief executive Evelyn Richardson.
“This is an economic, social and cultural emergency that demands a fast, creative, flexible and agile response from all levels of government.”
The live performance industry package consists of:
- A wage subsidy for industry employees who “no longer have meaningful work due to restrictions on gatherings, including casuals, sole traders, and self-employed” workers
- Business loans with zero-interest for five years
The package would include:
- A $550m (€302m) investment in the commercial sector, consisting of a cash injection of $25,000 (€13,748) to $2m (€1.1m) per company; a rebate of transaction fees through ticketing companies to be passed back to promoters, venues and festivals; and a $25,000 (€13,748) grants for 4,000 live music venues nationally
- A $180m (€98.8m) investment in Australia Council for the Arts, including a cash injection to performing arts companies and regional venues; an extension to all current government funding arrangements; and additional funding for the Four Year Funding for Organisations programme
- A $20m (€11m) support act dedicated to providing mental health and harship support for artists, performers, crew and technicians
- A recovery and reactivation package including a marketing campaign; consumer stimulus; tax incentives for live music events; and money for the support acts and Australia Council
“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase,” says Richardson.
LPA predicts that, over the course of three months, half a billion dollars of revenue and thousands of jobs will be lost from Australia’s live industry.
“Governments need to focus on supporting our companies to keep people employed and in jobs,” states Richardson.
“They also need to provide immediate income support for our creative workers who are now facing a very uncertain future.
“We need a comprehensive support package to ensure our companies survive and our industry is in the best position it can be when it is possible to resume operations.”
“Realistically, we’re looking at a three to six month closure period at least before any recovery phase”
Music Stage – Bulgarian association of concert promoters, music and cultural events
In Bulgaria, all state-owned venues, private music clubs, theatres and sports hall have been shut down until further notice, as the state has imposed a ban on gathering of more than 20 people in public places.
Music Stage has conducted meetings with government representatives and has proposed:
- A lift of the ban as soon as the quarantine period is over
- A period of grace in regards to current and future payments due to the local collection society, Musicautor
- Talks with managers and agents to lower fees for upcoming shows in order to offer customers lower ticket prices
- Agreements with local municipalities to promote future shows through their advertising and broadcasting channels
The association also has the intention of propsing a reduction of valued-added tax drom 20% to 5% on all cultural events.
“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs,” comments Music Stage chairman Stanislav Drazhev. “Further we hope that all travel bans will be lifted and all sectors in the economy related to our activities will be flexible in the future so we can elevate the live entertainment business once again.”
“The only way to avoid bankruptcies is to be able to promote new shows with affordable ticket prices and lower production and promotion costs”
Canadian Live Music Association (CLMA)
On 18 March, the CLMA welcomed a new federal aid package, which it believes particularly benefits in particular self-employed and freelance workers, small businesses, artists and musicians.
The government plan includes:
- An Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 (€478) bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers – including the self-emplyed – who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave
- An Emergency Support Benefit of up to $5bn (€2.7bn) in support to workers who are not eligible for employment insurance benefits and who are facing unemployment
- A 10% wage subsidy for small businesses for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 (€731) per employee and $25,000 (€13,285) per employer
- An increase in the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses
On Sunday 15 March, CLMA president and CEO Erin Benjamin sent a letter to the Canadian minister of finance recommending relief measures for the country’s live industry in a time if “extreme difficulty”.
The association estimates that over 36% of its members will “fail out-right” within the next four to weeks, with “others laying off approximately 76% of their current workforce”. The Canadian live industry currently contributes CAN $3.5bn (€3.8bn) to Canada’s GDP and employs 72,000 people.
“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society,” reads the letter. “The severe damage done to the live music sector will send a ripple effect through our creative community and economy, one that will be hard to reverse.”
The CLMA recommends:
- A large-scale compensation fund for concert and festival producers, such as the €12 million fund recently approved by the European Commission for Danish concerts and festivals.
- Assistance for self-employed workers and small businesses, who are “exceptionally vulnerable” to the effects the virus may have on the industry.
- Short-term work benefits for all live music workers including easy access to Employment Insurance benefits.
- Tax relief for all those involved in the live industry.
- Insurance accountability to ensure insurers are “following proper protocol by paying out on claims where legally applicable”.
- Eligibility for grants and loans for live music companies, “regardless of ‘perceived risk’”
The CMLA is among those surveying members to measure the impact of Covid-19 on the Canadian music industry. The survey, which can be accessed here, is running until 19 March.
“The economic, social and cultural output of the live music industry is entrenched in Canadian society”
Danish industry association Dansk Live has been in talks with the government since recommendations were made that event over 1,000 capacity – later extended to those over 100 people – be cancelled or postponed.
“There was no other choice than to cancel events and we managed to lobby for solutions to support the promoters and venues suffering from this,” Dansk Live’s Esben Marcher tells IQ. “We are currently in talks with politicians on how to help the smaller venues that are affected by the new situation.
Dansk Live welcomes initiatives already launched by the government, such as a fund to compensate those forced to cancel events.
“Some of these [initiatives] will also be helping the venues, but the initiatives are focusing on pay for the employees and ways of postponing tax and VAT payments. There’s currently no way of compensating the income loss on bar sales,” says Marcher. “The situation will hit the the small venues quite hard.”
The association is currently collecting data on postponed or cancelled shows, loss on ticket sales and artist fees. It is launching a new questionnaire to its members in the next few days.
“There was no other choice than to cancel events and we managed to lobby for solutions to support the promoters and venues suffering from this”
Europe-wide live music industry body Pearle* is calling upon the European Union and governments to provide targeted measures following the impact of Covid-19 on live events.
The body is asking the EU:
- To provide clarity regarding state aid rules
- To define the corona-crisis as “force majeure” throughout the EU
- To provide clear guidance on the consumer rules in relation to the reimbursement
Furthermore, the organisation urges member states to enforce specific measures relating to labour and employment, tax, financial and grants, asking government to:
- Exempt or postpone payments of employers social security contributions
- Introduce the possibility for temporary unemployment and where relevant access to unemployment benefits without a waiting period
- Provide a specific fund for freelancers to compensate the lost income which cannot be accessed through unemployment social benefits
- Ensure quick access to short-term work, provision of flexible work measures and support mechanisms to provide additional benefits for short-term workers
- Reduce business tax for private entities
- Reduce or remove VAT rates on tickets and/or on cultural services
- Introduce non-accrual of interest in case of late payments, especially as regards general services such as electricity, gas, water
- Suspend the application of the right to levy withholding tax on artist income in the case of touring groups and artists in the context of double tax treaties
- Extend deadlines to submit reports for grants/subsidies
- Create special strands of support in the period 2020-2021 to make touring and co-productions possible again
“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe,” reads the Pearle* statement on Covid-19. “More than ever culture is needed in a crisis situation.”
“In these times, culture is not a luxury but key to our societies and a unifying and mobilising force all over Europe”
The European independent music companies association, Impala, has set up a Covid-19 task force to help address the effects on the virus on the independent sector.
To promote a co-ordinated approach across Europe, the task force will publish next week a package of recommended measures at national, European and sector level. The plan is being designed to ensure that the music ecosystem is shielded from long term harm and to promote independent music.
Impala’s task force will also hold weekly calls to monitor action taken by the European institutions, as well as sector initiatives, and establish an inventory to keep members informed and promote best practice across the continent. National associations in Europe will be able to work with the task force to help devise national strategies with governments and key sector players.
“We fully support the public health measures that are being put in place,” says Impala executive chair, Helen Smith. “Governments are, however, reacting at different speeds and some are leaving too many decisions to businesses. This is causing unnecessary confusion and hardship.”
“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed,” adds Francesca Traini, chair of Impala’s Covid-19 task force. “The Impala task force is working on a call to action on all key levels.”
“In times of crisis, smaller actors are the most exposed”
Tous pour la Musique (All for music)
French association Tous pour la Musique, which represents around 30 live music organisations in the country, has called for “exceptional economic and financial aid from the public authorities for performing arts professionals”.
“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses, to compensate employees who find themselves without a salary and temporarily adapt the unemployment compensation rules for intermittent workers in the entertainment industry,” reads a statement issued by the organisation.
“There is an urgent need to strengthen support systems for businesses”
BDKV – Federal Association of the Concert and Event Industry
German promoters’ association BDKV has welcomed the measures put in place by the German government “to cushion the economic effects of coronavirus”, including making the short-time working allowance more flexible, introducing tax liquidity support for companies, creating the conditions for easier access to credit, and additional special programmes.
However, the association states that the measures “are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks and, above all, for the preliminary costs of planned concerts and tours that have been already invested in.”
The BDKV has suggested an expansion of the catalog of measures for the event industry, asking for:
- An extension to the period within which organisers can reschedule an event before having to refund tickets, allowing them a full year to do so
- An option to offer ticketholders a voucher worth the original ticket price, instead of a cash refund, for cases when an event cannot be rescheduled
- The creation of another emergency state fund to support service providers in the event industry
- The introduction of proper regulatory action and “clear and binding cancellation orders” from the authorities to ensure promoters are not liable to pay damages
Talks between the BDKV and the government will continue this week.
“Measures are not adequately suited to compensate for the loss of income due to events being cancelled over several weeks”
German Music Council
The German Music Council, or Deutscher Musikrat (DMR), has welcomed the €550bn of financial aid dedicated to the creative industries and other German businesses by the government, but calls for more help for freelancers.
“The DMR is demanding a basic income of €1,000 for all freelance creative professionals for a period of six months,” states professor Christian Höppner, general secretary of the German Music Council.
“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, be it in the event area or in the music education profession, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run. Given the average gross annual income for freelance musicians, there is no scope for reserves.
“It is crucial that help can now be provided quickly and without red tape.”
The umbrella organisation is among those running surveys to gauge the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their members. The survey, which runs until 31 March, can be found here.
“With the nationwide shutdown, the incomes of freelance musicians, immediately fall away, while costs continue to run”
In Italy, the European country hit worst by the coronavirus, promoters’ association Assomusica has predicted the industry will face a loss of around €40m from 23 February until the start of April.
Measures proposed by Assomusica include:
- Suspension of VAT payments for companies that have suffered cancellations or temporal shift of concerts
- A 12-month stop on the payment of mortgage installments and leases for the organisers of shows
- Tax credit for the costs of organizing canceled or postponed concerts
- A government guarantee on loans for entertainment companies
- Extraordinary support measures for workers and cooperatives operating in the live entertainment sector, such as tax exemptions
“We really hope that President Conte and ministers Franceschini (culture) and Gualtieri (economy and finance) can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows, and above all do not consider that the live show is only the one financed with citizens’ money,” says Assomusica president Vincenzo Spera.
“We really hope that President Conte can take into consideration measures of real help for the organisers of concerts and music shows”
All Japan Concert and Live Entertainment Promoters Conference (ACPC)
The Japanese live entertainment industry, including representatives from ACPC, called together a all-party parliamentary group for live entertainement on Tuesday (17 March), submitting a petition asking for:
- the government’s support and cooperation for restoring the concert industry
- economic backing
“About three weeks have passed since the Japanese prime minister announced a ban on events,” ACPC spokesperson Katsuhiko Kondo tells IQ. “Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, resulting in an estimated loss of 45bn yen (€381.6m).”
“Our estimation is that about 1,550 performances have been cancelled or called off, costing the industry 45bn yen”
Vereniging van evenementenmakers (VVEM) – Association of event organisers
Dutch promoters’ association VVEM has welcomed a recent package of financial measures from the government that allocates up to €20bn to support companies and the self-employed and recognised the cultural sector as one of the hardest hit.
- The Temporary Emergency Measure Bridging for Retention of Work that sees the government pay 90% of the salary for workers at companies that expect a 20% reduction in turnover. The scheme also applies to employees with a flexible contract and to on-call workers.
- A €4,000 emergency provision for entrepeneurs “directly affected” by measures implemented to stop the spread of the virus
- Benefits for self-emplyed workers
- A deferral of taxes and reduction of recovery charges to almost 0%
- €1.5bn of state-guaranteed loans, of up to €150m each
- A call on consumers not to request a refund for tickets purchased for cancelled events
“We see that the government is well aware of the need for business, large and small, and has announced firm measures,” comments VVEM’s Willem Westermann. “Some of the measures can also be implemented quickly.
“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures. How that will work out is not yet clear, but we hope and expect to be able to report on it soon. ”
“As an industry organisation, VVEM is now busy directing the possible additional sector-specific measures”
Norwegian Live Music Association
The Norwegian Live Music Association has been working to help its 420 members since the government put forward a ban on large gatherings on 5 March, later extended to a closing of all events from 12 to 24 March.
“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard,” the association’s CEO, Tone Østerdal, tells IQ. “Our members report on a loss of income at NOK 430m (€33m) for March and April alone.
“If the situation continues over the summer, hitting the festival season, we can add NOK 2.8bn (€213.7m) to that.”
Through government lobbying, Østerdal says the assocaition has, to a certain extent, achieved what it has asked for, including:
- Aid for artists and self-employed actors within the cultural sectors
- Liquidity enhancing measures
- Direct support towards festivals, venues and promotors who has been given an order to close down in this period
Although Østerdal states the fund dedeicated to the live music sector “is not big enough”, she adds that “it’s a much-needed start”.
“From small festivals and promotors based on voluntary work to the big, commercial actors; this is hitting hard”
Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Belarus
Colisium International Music Forum
Colisium, an association for promoters in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus, has put together documents seeking government support in the face of Covid-19.
The association requests:
- The delay in deadlines for paying for ticket refunds and other costs when events are cancelled or postponed
- Large state grants to help restore the industry for when the pandemic is over
“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events, especially in the largest hubs of Moscow, Saint-Petersburg, Yekaterinburg (Russia), Minsk (Belarus), Kiev (Ukraine), and Almaty (Kazakhstan),” Colisium’s Sergey Babich tells IQ.
“We also expect there will be an economic decrease of 80 to 90% for the live event industry – before the pandemic, the live events industry in our countries collectively was worth $2.2bn a year.”
Babich adds that there is also a possibility of a 12-month gap in programming, leading to a much longer restoration period for the industry.
“Our prognosis is that there will be a three to six month period without the events”
The federation suggests:
- Guaranteeing the liquidity of companies, particularly small- and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed workers in the music industry, with backing from the ICO (Instituto de Crédito Oficial), a state-owned bank attached to the ministry of economy and business
- The postponement of tax payment, including on value added tax (VAT), income tax and foreign income tax. This should also apply to any oustanding tax debt and the accrual of interest during the period of inaction
- The reduction of VAT from 10% to 4% on tickets to music events and from 21% to 10% on all services related to live music
- A reduction of the corporate tax rate for at least two years while the sector recovers
- The approval of means of compensating the customer other than by tickets refunds, in the case of events cancelled due to Covid-19
- The possibility of an official declaration of force majeure to facilitate the postponement of concert and festivals
- For self-employed workers, the suspension of social security contributions, implement paid leave from the day one and establish a severance payment by creating an emergency fund
- The simplification and streamlining of procedures in temporary employment regulation (TER) files.
- The suspension of the obligation for companies to pay social security contributions for workers during the period of inactivity
The federation also asks for the creation of a state fund to support the industry and the approval of an action plan to help the sector recuperate, including subsidising ticket prices, increased contracting with public entities, creating a promotional campaign for cultural activities and encouraging investment in the sector.
Spanish music federation has proposed a raft of measures to to help the music industry weather the coronavirus “crisis”
Swedish promoters’ association Svensk Live has asked the government to extend existing relief measures for the live industry.
“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period,” explains Svensk Live’s Joppe Pihlgren. “It is about how the employer can get tax reduction, or postpone payments.”
Pihlgren says the association is in constant contact with the country’s culture minister and is preparing a suggestion on how members could get compensation for basic costs, such as rent, and for the costs for the shows that will be cancelled.
“This is a first step to help members survive.”
“The package that has been released is focused on jobs and how to keep people in labour during this period”
Tom Kiehl, acting CEO of UK Music, has called for “urgent clarity” from the UK government, following new guidelines that see emergency workers no longer provided to mass gatherings and advise people to avoid public gatherings spaces such as social venues, pubs and clubs.
“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place,” states Kiehl.
Previously, the Industry umbrella association called for a “framework of support” for the country’s music business in a letter to culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday (13 March).
The UK live industry contributes £5.2bn a year to the economy and sustains over 190,000 jobs.
Measures recommended by UK Music include:
- Help, guidance and clarity for the 72% of workers in the music industry who are self-employed
- ‘Holidays’ from VAT (value-added tax), allowing companies to delay payments to “potentially provide cash flow” to some businesses
- Compensation schemes to support live events and businesses, such as that given to Danish concerts and festivals
- Eligibility for grants and loans for all music businesses
- A holding to account of insurance companies
- An extension to the period of time within which refunds must be paid to consumers
- Business rates relief for the 132 grassroot music venues in the UK with a rateable value of above £51,000. (Last week, the UK government abolished business rates – the tax paid on non-domestic property – for businesses with a rateable value of below £51,000.)
“The impact of the virus could deal a hammer blow to the British music industry and threaten the livelihoods of many people,” says UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl. “It is imperative that the Government takes urgent steps to safeguard a music industry, which is the envy of the world.”
“The government must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, and how long the measures will remain in place”
Music Venue Trust (MVT)
The independent venue charity is asking the government to:
- Legally enforce the closure of the UK’s grassroots music venues in response to the coronavirus outbreak to avoid “the permanent closure and loss of hundreds of venues” and facilitate insurance claims
- Cancel the Festival of Britain 2022 – a one-off cultural event that the government has ring-fenced £120 million to deliver
- Reallocate the £120 million to create a Cultural Infrastructure Hardship Relief Fund, delivering funding to grassroots music venues, theatres, arts centres and other social and cultural spaces forced to close by the coronavirus
According to the MVT, the entire grassroots music venue sector could “be mothballed for eight weeks and saved permanently” for £40 million. The charity is encouraging people to support its campaign by signing a petition here.
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