fbpx

PROFILE

MY SUBSCRIPTION

LOGOUT

x

The latest industry news to your inbox.

    

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities

    

I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

Scottish parliament approves vaccine passports

The Scottish parliament yesterday (9 September) approved plans for vaccine passports, which will come into force from 1 October for those seeking entry to nightclubs and ‘analogous venues’, as well as large-scale events.

Scotland is one of the few countries in the world to implement a vaccine passport that doesn’t include test results – following in the footsteps of Israel which also restricts entry to those who have been fully vaccinated.

The new vaccine certification rules will mean that anyone over the age of 18 will need to show they have had both doses of the vaccine before they are allowed entry to:

Exemptions will apply to under 18s (to be kept under review), participants in vaccine trials, people unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons and employees at venues within the scope of the scheme.

The Scottish government is yet to finalise a definition of ‘nightclubs and analogous venues’ prompting music industry bodies to criticise the lack of detail in the policy.

“[This policy] potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy”

Music Venue Trust CEO, Mark Davyd, says: “As it stands this Scottish government policy amounts to an attempt to exclude some people from going somewhere at some time, without proving adequate information on when, where, who or how.

“In doing so it potentially disproportionately penalises young people, excluding one in four of them from the late-night economy, and people from diverse backgrounds, excluding nearly 50% of them from the late-night economy.”

Davyd also complains that no financial support has been offered to deliver the policy, and none offered to mitigate the impacts it will have on business.

Affected venues will be required to download a free QR code verifier app to a smartphone or device and staff will be required to check a customer’s QR code to ensure the record of vaccination is genuine.

The cost of the app is free, but any additional staffing or infrastructure costs to deliver the scheme will be absorbed by the business.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic”

An overview on the government’s website suggests that the regulations should impose a legal obligation on the person responsible for operating the business or venue to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to restrict entry only to those fully vaccinated.

The Scottish government plans to publish guidance to set out what ‘reasonable measures’ would be proportionate in different settings with different capacities.

The Nighttime Industries Association (NTIA) – the membership of which includes many clubbing businesses that will be affected by the new requirement – says the vote has “put an already fragile nighttime economy on a dangerous path to devastation”.

“The Scottish government has targeted the late-night economy throughout this pandemic,” says Michael Kill, CEO, NTIA. “Our industry has gone to exceptional lengths to support the public health strategy in Scotland, and have been led to believe that consultation would be considered and enacted upon, but instead, we have been met with empty promises and hollow words.”

“Thousands of people in Scotland’s nighttime economy have lost jobs, businesses are overburdened with debt and many have not survived.”

“The call for evidence from the Scottish government has been ignored, and has left us no option but to challenge this, as an industry in the coming weeks, or we will suffer the catastrophic consequences of ill-thought out policy.”

Elsewhere in the UK, the British government has said it will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded indoor venues from the end of next month. It is rumoured that Wales is also considering launching a vaccine-only passport this autumn.

 


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.

UK industry anxiously awaits government announcement

The UK’s live entertainment community is holding its breath for the government’s long-awaited 14 June Covid briefing, after speculation started to emerge over a proposed delay in allowing venues and festivals to reopen without restrictions.

With 21 June stated as the day when the government wants all restrictions in England to end, the spread of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 (also known as the Delta variant) in certain cities and communities is reportedly prompting scientists and government advisors to push for a delay from anywhere between two to four weeks.

The threat of such a postponement is being met with frustration and anger in parts of the live events industry, with luminaries such as Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber threatening legal action, while other businesses great and small worry if their return-to-work policies for staff have been activated too prematurely.

For others, any delay could prove far more damaging.

“It could be the final nail in the coffin for many grass roots venues,” exclaims Music Venue Trust (MVT) CEO Mark Davyd. “If they are prevented from reopening their doors, building landlords may cancel their lease and we will end up losing these venues for good.”

That’s a sentiment echoed by Phil Bowdery, chairman of the Concert Promoters Association. “It’s critical that the government proceeds with its plans to end restrictions on 21 June. By its own admission through the Events Research Programme (ERP), large-scale events are inherently safe so long as the right precautions – in the form of testing – are in place.”

Speaking to the Daily Mail newspaper, composer Lloyd Webber, who owns seven West End theatres, is questioning the legality of the government retaining social distancing rules beyond 21 June, especially when the ERP’s test shows have proved that there is no greater risk of infection at concerts and other live events.

“If the schools, pubs and restaurants are allowed to remain open, but live music venues are prevented from reopening, it makes no sense whatsoever”

“If the government’s own science has told them that buildings are safe, I’m advised that at that point things could get quite difficult,” says Lloyd Webber. “This is the very last thing that anybody wants to do, but there would [be] a legal case at that point because it’s their science – not ours.”

MVT founder Davyd is equally bemused. “Government has laid down the criteria over whether live music and other performances could return to normal. We’ve met that criteria and now it seems like they are still thinking about keeping live music venues closed when there’s absolutely zero evidence to show that they change the transmission of the virus.

“If the schools, pubs and restaurants are allowed to remain open, but live music venues are prevented from reopening, it makes no sense whatsoever,” adds Davyd. “Keeping the Cheese & Grain [850-cap.] venue closed in Frome – where there is no Covid infection – is not going to help the infection rate up in Blackburn.”

The Night Time Industries Association has also said it will “challenge” the government if there is a delay to 21 June. “The decision to delay will leave us no other option but to challenge the Government aggressively, standing alongside many other industries who have been locked down or restricted from opening,” says CEO Michael Kill.

Rumours over a U-turn on the 21 June roadmap deadline began circulating last week when the Independent Sage group of scientists warned that the rise of the Delta variant in the UK could soar if England’s lockdown ends as planned.

“As things stand, it is very difficult to justify progressing with the last stage of the roadmap, scheduled for 21 June, a point that should be made now, to modify current false hopes,” said Independent Sage.

“Public Health England figures released on June 3 suggest that the Delta variant has spread widely across the UK and is continuing to spread, that it has higher infectivity than the previous circulating variant, and that it is more likely to cause disease and hospitalisation.”

“There would be a legal case at that point because it’s their science, not ours”

Government advisors will also be analysing data that shows the Delta variant is rare in people who have been vaccinated, while hospitalisations throughout the UK are currently flat, rather than rising as the infection spreads.

However, adding more uncertainty over the deadline, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, “It’s too early to say what the decision will be about step four of the road map, which is scheduled to be no earlier than June 21.

“Of course, I look at those data every day, we publish them every day, the case numbers matter but what really matters is how that translates into the number of people going to hospital, the number of people sadly dying. The vaccine breaks that link, the question is how much the link has yet been broken because the majority of people who ended up in hospital are not fully vaccinated.”

Meanwhile, those living in the Greater Manchester and Lancashire areas – where Covid is spreading fast – were today placed under new travel rules to combat spiralling Delta variant cases.

Residents are being advised to minimise travel in and out of the areas, while the army is being brought into the region to replicate the widespread vaccination drive that it helped to roll out in the neighbouring city of Bolton, under similar circumstances, in May.

IQ understands that the UK government is planning to make its final decision on the 21 June reopening as late as Sunday 13 June, or even the day of the announcement, Monday 14 June, meaning that the data gathered over the remainder of this week will be crucial.

In recent days the indication is that the average number of daily cases is now slowly rising in the UK. Figures for yesterday (8 June) reveal 6,048 new confirmed cases, but just 13 deaths of people who had tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 28 days.

“Government now needs to kickstart the ‘new normal’ economy rather than continuing to dither”

Nevertheless, a number of towns, cities and communities are experiencing sharp rises in case numbers due to the Delta variant, which is known to spread quicker than other variants, leading the Sage scientists and other experts to predict that the country may be on the verge of a third wave of infections.

But should the government bow to pressure, the timing of such a disappointing announcement will be scrutinised, given that on Sunday (13 June), 22,000 football fans will be in Wembley Stadium for England versus Croatia in the European Championships.

At press time, it was announced that the game would be the first sporting event at which so-called vaccine ‘passports’ will be used in the UK, with attendees required to show proof of full vaccination, with both doses having been received at least 14 days before the match. Those not fully vaccinated must show proof of a negative lateral flow test taken within the previous 48 hours.

The timing of the game is not lost upon Davyd. “We’ve basically asked the government that whatever position they take it should be a logical one,” he says. “Not allowing venues and festivals to reopen is not going to change the transmission rate.

“As far as I see it, they have two options: they can reopen everything; or they can announce that some things they have already allowed are increasing the infection rate and they should be closed down. But keeping other businesses from reopening – when they have not played any role in the infection rate rising – just doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Equally as frustrated, CPA chief Bowdery underlines the plight of hundreds of thousands of people and business that rely on live events for their income. “Government now needs to kickstart the ‘new normal’ economy rather than continuing to dither, helping to secure the future of the live music sector, which currently hangs in the balance,” adds Bowdery.

 


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.

Major markets set out plans for Covid-19 passports

Australia and Iceland have joined a number of other markets across the globe in announcing plans for digital health passports which will show citizens’ Covid-19 vaccination and test status.

Iceland recently became the first European country to issue and recognise Covid-19 vaccination certificates to enable international travel for those inoculated against Covid-19.

Since early in the pandemic, the country has required a minimum five-day quarantine for international arrivals and now those with documentation showing they have received a full course of Covid-19 vaccines will be able to skip quarantine.

“You Check’s identity first [digital health passport] has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk”

In Australia, ahead of the nationwide rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine, the government has announced that all vaccinations will be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register, and certificates would then be available digitally via the Express Plus Medicare app or in hard copy through the vaccination provider or Services Australia.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told ABC National Radio it is “highly likely” that such documentation will be needed for international travel into the country.

Meanwhile, UK music venues are set to trial a health passport pioneered by London-based start-up You Check to accelerate the nation’s return to live.

The trials – which have been set-up in conjunction with Music Venue Trust (MVT) – are scheduled to take place at London’s 100 Club (cap. 350) and Bristol’s Exchange (cap. 250) in March.

The digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result in one place and “facilitate communication between promoters and their full audiences, beyond the primary ticket buyer”.

[This] digital health passport will allow venue door staff and ingress operations to verify an attendee’s name, age, ticket and test result

“You Check’s identity first solution has a lot of potential to help venues and promoters manage risk,” says MVT CEO, Mark Davyd.

“It has a fast and thorough authentication process which enables health information to be stored against portable digital identity and MVT is pleased to be working with You Check to explore how this technology might form part of a comprehensive process which enables us to reopen every venue safely and revive live.”

Other nations that have revealed plans to launch a digital coronavirus passport include Sweden (by the summer) and Denmark (in three to four months), while Poland has already started issuing the digital pass to its citizens.

Elsewhere in Europe, Spain’s foreign minister Arancha Gonzalez has said “vaccine certification is something we are going towards inevitably”; Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, has called upon the European Commission to introduce a standardized coronavirus vaccination certificate to facilitate travel within the European Union bloc, and Portugal’s interior minister Eduardo Cabrita has said that a vaccine certification would be easier to manage than the current Covid-19 requirements.

 


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.

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.

Industry reacts to €1.7bn UK rescue package

Yesterday evening, the British government announced an unprecedented financial rescue package for the UK’s hard-hit cultural sector, promising £1.57 billion (€1.74bn) in grants and loans for arts and creative businesses to get back on their feet post-Covid-19.

While many of the specifics of the scheme – including eligibility and how much money is allocated to music specifically – have yet to be revealed, the government intervention has been widely welcomed by the live music business, which last Thursday came together for the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign to ask for immediate assistance for the industry.

See below for a selection of quotes from various industry representatives…

 


Phil Bowdery, Concert Promoters’ Association:

“On Thursday the live music industry came together in an unprecedented way to ask the government for support, and so this announcement is both timely and warmly welcomed.

“We asked for three things, and today it looks like the first of those – a financial support package – has been granted. We’re looking forward to clarification that this package safeguards our whole ecosystem – from our artists and crews, to our festivals, venues and many professionals – and working closely with the government to deliver it.

“Everyone who lent their support to the campaign on Thursday should be extremely proud of the impact they’re already having. Now let’s move forward and #LetTheMusicPlay!”

“We’re looking forward to clarification that this package safeguards our whole ecosystem – from our artists and crews, to our festivals, venues and other professionals”

Mark Davyd, Music Venue Trust:

“Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain’s world-class live music scene. We’d like to thank the secretary of state and the team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the opportunity to work closely together throughout this crisis to develop genuine solutions to the challenges faced by grassroots music venues.

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues”

Paul Reed, Association of Independent Festivals:

“The AIF has had close contact with DCMS throughout the lockdown period, helping them to understand the needs of UK festivals during this difficult time. We have urged government to offer a robust financial package to the sector to ensure its survival.

“The announcement of emergency support for the arts is clearly welcome but it is worrying that there has still been no specific mention of the UK’s festival industry – a sector that contributes so much to the economy and people’s lives, and one that finds itself in a uniquely precarious position during this pandemic.

“The time for lip service is over. UK festivals have, to date, largely fallen through the cracks when it comes to financial aid and business support. Boris Johnson has told parliament that he is doing all he can to support our ‘very, very valuable sector’ but we are yet to see evidence of that. We need the prime minister to back this up with meaningful action and confirm that festival organisers will be eligible to access this emergency support package.”

“It is worrying that there has still been no specific mention of the UK’s festival industry – a sector that contributes so much”

Tom Kiehl, UK Music:

“A £1.57bn support package for the arts is a huge step forward and should be a lifesaver for many music venues. Culture secretary Oliver Dowden, chancellor Rishi Sunak and DCMS minister Caroline Dinenage are to be warmly congratulated.

“The music industry was one of the first sectors to be hit by measures to tackle COVID-19. UK Music has long called for sector-specific support to ensure live music can recover. Eligibility for grants and loans must be as broad as possible to ensure maximum take-up from across the industry from those in desperate need of help.

“Those that don’t have a track record of public funding must also not be put at a disadvantage. We are seeking urgent talks with Arts Council England to discuss further.”

“Those that don’t have a track record of public funding must not be put at a disadvantage”

Annabella Coldrick, Music Managers Forum:

“After months of discussions, meetings and advocacy, culminating in the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign last Thursday, it feels that government has accepted the importance of art and culture to our society and economy. Obviously £1.57bn is a substantial sum of money, but we still need to see the full details of this package and how it will be allocated to reach those most in need.

“It is absolutely essential that funding stretches beyond cultural institutions and can equally benefit artists and their teams around the UK, many of whom have fallen through gaps in support, despite seeing a complete collapse in their live income.”

“It is absolutely essential that funding stretches beyond cultural institutions and can equally benefit artists and their teams”

Michael Kill, Night Time Industries Association:

“This is an unprecedented commitment from the government and [this] long-awaited financial support reflects the importance of the sector to the UK and internationally.

“With many neighbouring European countries investing heavily in the culture and arts sector, the UK government had been under mounting pressure to mimic the actions of their international counterparts.

“We will await further details of the announcement in the coming days to gain a greater understanding of the businesses which will benefit from this investment. We hope it will also include the vital supply chain businesses which are fundamental to the creative and cultural sector, of which the night-time economy businesses are very much a big part of.

“We also look forward to receiving updated guidance with regard to the phased return of the night-time economy sectors.”

“We hope this investment will include the vital supply chain businesses which are fundamental to the sector”

Caroline Norbury MBE, Creative Industries Federation:

“This unprecedented £1.57 billion investment is a seismic step forward. Our creative industries are teetering on the brink of cultural collapse, and this could be the game-changer we need.

“The voice of the creative sector has been heard loud and clear by the government and we warmly welcome their response.  This investment acknowledges the mission critical role that the UK’s creative industries will play in recovery and growth in all parts of the country.

“However, while this support will rescue many, so much has changed during the pandemic; there won’t necessarily be an easy return to normal. It is particularly heartening to see the reference to supporting freelancers, who are a phenomenally important part of the creative-industries ecosystem.

“But there will be so much more to do to ensure that our world-beating creative sector can thrive once more – and as we move forwards through the challenging days and months ahead, it will be crucial that the creative industries work together to reimagine all of our futures.”

“It is particularly heartening to see the reference to supporting freelancers, who are a phenomenally important part of the ecosystem”

This article will be updated with more reactions as we receive them.

 


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.

UK announces £1.5bn culture rescue package

The British government today (5 July) announced a rescue package worth £1.57 billion to help the UK’s arts and culture sector weather the impact of the coronavirus.

The measures – which follow Thursday’s #LetTheMusicPlay campaign that saw the UK music industry come together to call for immediate government assistance for the live music business – will see emergency grants and loans extended to a range of creative and heritage businesses, including live music and entertainment organisations.

The package, described by HM Treasury as the “biggest-ever one-off investment in UK culture”, includes:

The devolved administrations in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales will also receive extra funding, of £33m, £97m and £59m, respectively.

The repayable finance will be issued on “generous terms tailored for cultural institutions” to ensure they are affordable, according to the Treasury.

“Everyone who lent their support to the campaign should be extremely proud of the impact they’re already having”

The government says decisions on funding awards will be made in consultation with “expert independent figures” in each sector, including bodies such as the British Film Institute, Arts Council England and the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Announcing the package, culture secretary Oliver Dowden – to whom the #LetTheMusicPlay letter campaign was addressed – describes culture as the “soul of our nation”. “I said we would not let the arts down,” he says, “and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

Further details of the scheme will be available when it opens for applications in the coming weeks.

Live Nation’s Phil Bowdery, chair of the UK’s Concert Promoters’ Association, comments: “On Thursday the live music industry came together in an unprecedented way to ask the government for support, and so this announcement is both timely and warmly welcomed.

“We asked for three things, and today it looks like the first of those – a financial support package – has been granted. We’re looking forward to clarification that this package safeguards our whole ecosystem – from our artists and crews, to our festivals, venues and many professionals – and working closely with the government to deliver it.

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues”

“Everyone who lent their support to the campaign on Thursday should be extremely proud of the impact they’re already having. Now let’s move forward and #LetTheMusicPlay!”

In addition to announcing the new funds, the government release says Dowden and his colleagues are “finalising guidance for a phased return of the performing arts sectors”, to be published shortly. “The government is working with the sectors to get it back up and running as soon as it is safe to do so, and is being guided by medical experts,” it reads.

Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, says the organisation “warmly welcomes this unprecedented intervention into Britain’s world-class live music scene. We’d like to thank the secretary of state and the team at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport for the opportunity to work closely together throughout this crisis to develop genuine solutions to the challenges faced by grassroots music venues.

“This fund provides the opportunity to stabilise and protect our vibrant and vital network of venues and gives us the time we need to create a plan to Reopen Every Venue Safely.”

He adds: “We’d like to thank everyone in the industry who gave us so much support during this incredibly difficult time, and also thank IQ, who have been a constant source of excellent information and help.”

 


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.

UK biz awaits reopening info as sector faces ‘mass closures’

Industry associations in the UK have called on the government for sector-specific support and “absolute clarity” on reopening, as it is estimated that 90% of venues and festivals in the country face permanent closure.

According to the UK Live Music Group, which sits within trade body UK Music as the collective voice of promoters, festivals, agents, venues and production services, nearly a billion pounds will be wiped off the value of the UK music industry without state support and clarity on when – and how – live events will return.

Last week, grassroots venues representative the Music Venue Trust (MVT) asked for “an immediate cash injection” of £50 million, warning that a lack of immediate aid will result in “mass closures” of venues over the summer months.

The organisation also proposes a one-off cut in value-added tax (VAT) on ticket sales for the next three years for venues and promoters.

MVT states that the industry is currently facing “a substantial loss of infrastructure”, with nine out of ten venues and the festivals in the country at risk of permanent closure.

“Frustration and anger is growing within the sector to get some absolute clarity on when businesses will be able to reopen and what extended provision will be available to businesses unable to open under the measures presented by government”

The charity’s Save Our Venues campaign has so far raised £2m, providing short-term relief for many venues. However, “relying on donations simply isn’t sustainable as we move into a recovery phase”, says MVT CEO Mark Davyd, who recently spoke on an IQ Focus panel on the difficulties facing grassroots music venues.

The call comes as the UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) criticises the government for “procrastinating” over the future.

“Frustration and anger is growing within the sector to get some absolute clarity on when businesses will be able to reopen and what extended provision will be available to businesses unable to open under the measures presented by government,” comments NTIA CEO Michael Kill.

Kill says that “consistent ambiguous messaging” from the government has increased “the level of anxiety” amongst business owners.

“At what point is the government going to realise that we are playing with people’s livelihoods here, and businesses and jobs are being lost with every passing day?” asks Kill.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce details of the next phase of reopening – starting from 4 July – tomorrow (23 June), with updates anticipated for businesses across the hospitality sector.

The outcome of a review on the possible relaxation of the two metre social distancing rule is also expected in the coming days.

Photo: Maurice/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) (cropped)

 


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.

MVT campaign raises almost £25k in three days

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has raised over £22,500 so far as part of its #saveourvenues campaign, which launched on Monday (27 April), in aid of 556 UK grassroots music venues in danger of permanent closure.

Following on from the launch of MVT’s grassroots music venues crisis fund last month, #saveourvenues encourages fans and artists to select a venues to support from an interactive map, which includes links to fundraising campaigns.

Artists can also receive the tools and guidance to perform a gig from their homes in support of a particular venue.

Venues listed as ‘at risk’ include the 200-capacity Green Store Door in Brighton, the 900-capacity Leadmill in Sheffield and the 200-capacity Lexington in London.

Each venue has its own crowdfunding page with a clear target of the funds it needs to raise in order to stay afloat during the Covid-19 crisis. Once that target is reached, any excess donations will go to the central #saveourvenues fund to help the wider grassroots community.

The wider fund has currently raised £22,837 of a £100,000 target, just three days into the campaign. MVT’s GMV crisis fund, which has so far raised over £182,000 thanks to significant donations from Amazon Music, SJM, artists and music fans, will be renamed the #saveourvenues fund, forming part of the same initiative.

Those wishing to support the campaign can also do so through the use of the #saveourvenues hashtag and social media templates.

“The #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive”

Singer-songwriter Frank Turner, whose recent series of performances ‘Independent Venue Love’ for local venues Nambucca in London (300-cap.), the Joiners in Southampton (200-cap.) the Railway Inn in Winchester (150-cap.) and the Forum in Tunbridge Wells (250-cap.), raised thousands of pounds, provided a “major” inspiration for the campaign.

“The UK live music industry is staring into the abyss right now,” says Turner. “The success of [my livestreamed] shows demonstrated the love that exists between music fans and their favourite grassroots music venues so the #saveourvenues campaign is a brilliant way of building on that and hopefully giving artists and music fans a chance to get involved and play a big part in helping them survive.”

“We are confident that we can help create real momentum that will see artists and venues working together to raise much needed funds,” comments MVT CEO Mark Davyd. “We are also calling on the wider music industry to support us too. We have received some magnificent support so far from music companies, but we need a lot more to step up and help save this essential part of the music eco-system.”

Those wishing to donate in excess of £1000 should contact Davyd directly here.

Photo: Henry W. Laurisch/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) (cropped)

 


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.

MVT launches advisory books for grassroots venues

At an event at City Hall in London last night (15 July), Music Venue Trust (MVT) launched two new books which offer practical advice to the grassroots venues sector.

The illustrated, open-source books, commissioned by MVT and produced by writer David Pollock and photographer Jannica Honey, aim to draw on the association’s work over the past five years to offer assistance to those wishing to open a new venue (How to Open a Grassroots Music Venue) and those already running one (How to Run a Grassroots Music Venue).

According to Mark Davyd, CEO of the UK charity – founded in 2014 to protect, secure and improve grassroots music venues – each book contains 15 chapters of information covering topics including licensing, company structure, what facilities need to be provided, and ideas for diversifying what venues offer, as well as interviews with venue managers and case studies.

A guidance section at the back of the books is complemented by cross-referencing with online resources on the MVT website (musicvenuetrust.com/resources), which will be updated regularly.

“We want these books to inspire people to join us and open their own venues”

As well as a limited print run, both books are available as downloadable PDFs from both MVT’s and the Mayor of London’s websites.

“When I was 17, I put on my first gig, and over the next ten years I met lots of other like-minded people who wanted to do the same,” explains Davyd. “Eventually, after five years of trying, we got together and opened our own venue. Nobody ever gave us advice, and we must have made every mistake possible. Most people I know in the grassroots music sector have a similar story, which is why we wanted to publish these guides.

“We want these books to inspire people to join us and open their own venues, and the message is simple: you can build a stage the band doesn’t fall through, you can get a licence that doesn’t prevent you from opening on a Wednesday, and you can avoid having to rebuild the venue from scratch, only this time with enough doors.”

Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, says: “Developing the next generation of talent is hugely important to us; grassroots music venues are an essential part of an artist’s career and a vital cog in the music industry machine. We have worked with MVT since 2015 and know the struggles that these venues face. These guides are another important step to keep music playing in grassroots venues across the UK.”

Rou Reynolds addresses MVT book launch

Enter Shikari’s Rou Reynolds, an MVT patron (pictured speaking at the launch), adds: “Grassroots music venues are vital spaces for musicians, music fans and communities in general. It’s been a tough time for venues up and down the country over the past few years and there’s been no government support.

“It’s great that MVT has launched these new books, sharing the knowledge and experience of those who run the venues that are surviving and shining a spotlight on the touring circuit.

“I think it could help encourage the opening of new venues and support networks.”

Music Venue Trust says it’s looking into the possibility of further development of these guides. Anyone interested in being involved should email info@musicvenuetrust.com.

 


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.

‘We all have a story’: Biz pays tribute to Mark E. Smith

Figures from across the live music industry have shared their memories of Mark E. Smith, the late frontman of UK post-punk pioneers The Fall, who died yesterday after a period of illness.

“Name a promoter you know and we’ve all got a Fall story,” says Crosstown-concerts Conal Dodds, who relates his own. “My gig was 1992 I think, Bristol Victoria Room: Mark E. Smith barging out of the dressing room, beer can in hand, mid-afternoon, moaning, ‘Why is there always a racket going on every day when I’ve finished soundchecking? I want some peace and quiet… I’m not fucking having it!’”

‘That,’ replied Dodds, ‘will be the support band, Mark.’

Tim Hornsby of York venue Fibbers says that “you get warned about doing a show with Mark E. Smith: Late on stage, short sets, pissed, cantankerous…”

Conversely, Hornsby says on the “many times” he promoted Smith (pictured), while “he was very definitely pissed”, Smith “was also a model of good temper and co-operation, performing long sets and even encores. Unbelievably, in recent years, he once stood at the front door shaking hands as people came in.”

“He was a mad, brilliant, intense, horrible genius, and the world was a better place with him in it”

He continues: “Yes, a man with immeasurable man-of-the-people lyricism, oft-impenetrable logic but always with his singular independence, total and undisguised disdain for self-proclaimed authority and the only man to appear on Jools Holland’s show with the stipulation, ‘as long as he doesn’t tinkle along with us on the joanna’ [piano].

“In an era of committee-composed music weak as maiden’s water, little or no imaginative vocabulary or delivery, and samples, samples, samples, Mark E. Smith’s urgent and angsty guitar indie almost entirely stood alone.

“I’m going to miss him getting tangled in mic leads, fiddling with the amps and generally rambling around looking confused, but always in total control of yet another packed house.”

“When I finally met him, sometime in the late ’90s, he was in one of his phases where he was sacking the band on a nightly basis,” recalls Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust and co-owner of the Tunbridge Wells Forum. “After an hour and a half waiting, he finally took the stage and proceeded to rant over some improvised rockabilly performed by a drummer he’d met yesterday and a keyboard player who he’d handed a bass to. The show lasted 40 minutes. No one asked for their money back. It was The Fall.

“Name a promoter you know and we’ve all got a Fall story”

“We ended the evening together in a romantic fashion, him chasing me round the dressing room trying to hit me with £3,000 in cash. At least a dozen other promoters could tell you a similar story.

“He was a mad, brilliant, intense, horrible genius, and the world was a better place with him in it. Thanks, Mark.”

Enter Shikari manager Ian Johnsen says he was “13 years old when I accepted Mark E. Smith into my life. Like most fans, I have stories. Some of them from my own first-hand experience – others legends passed down from those that came before me.

“I saw The Fall countless times. No matter what, I never left disappointed. (Though last time I saw them I left halfway through as it upset me too much, but that’s different to disappointment, yeah?)

“I hope Mark E. Smith is remembered for what he actually was, not the caricature that is so easy for people to fall back on. A fantastic life.

“‘Ours is not to look back. Ours is to continue the crack…’ And this, always…”

“I hope Mark E. Smith is remembered for what he actually was, not the caricature that is so easy for people to fall back on”

Finally, paying tribute to her ex-husband, Brix Smith-Smart, The Fall’s guitarist from 1983 to 1989, says: “Mark defied convention and definition – he was a true artist. When I arrived in Manchester – a young American – he introduced me to pickled onions, pubs and punk. He was my music mentor, my cultural anchor and my first love.

“I feel deeply saddened by his passing but I feel a greater joy for having shared his journey. He never once compromised; how many others can leave this life with such a singularity of vision?

“‘Check the guy’s track record, he is not appreciated’ – now at last he is…”

 


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.