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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.

 


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Unsung Heroes 2020: Michael Kill

Unsung Heroes 2020, published in IQ 95 just before Christmas, is a tribute to some of the organisations and individuals who have gone above and beyond to help others during a year unlike any other – be that through their efforts to protect the industry, or helping those who were in desperate need.

We turned to the readership and asked you to nominate worthy causes and personalities for consideration as the inaugural members of our Unsung Heroes awards. Now, IQ can reveal the dozen most-voted Unsung Heroes of 2020, continuing with Night Time Industry Association (NTIA) CEO, Michael Kill, who follows UK-based concert promoter Alexandra Ampofo.


As the CEO of the Night Time Industry Association (NTIA), Michael Kill’s primary goal is to ensure that both its members and the wider industry has a voice. “We aim to protect, serve, and redefine the narrative surrounding nightlife without being engulfed by restrictive government structures and assumptions,” he states.

“Needless to say, the arrival of Covid-19 in March has made the past eight months the most testing and demanding in the NTIA’s short, six-year history. Fortunately, myself and the majority of the team share over two decades’ worth of experience in the night time industries, and that’s positioned us well to tackle each obstacle as it arrives.”

Covid has taken a tremendous toll on the night-time economy in the UK, with tens of thousands of businesses and millions of employees facing hardship, as government restrictions time and again ignore their plight – until Kill and his NTIA team step in…

“From the beginning of campaigning, we realised that one of our biggest strengths was the night-time community itself”

“From the very beginning of campaigning, we realised that one of our biggest strengths was the night-time community itself, and so we’ve worked hard to bring together and support businesses and individuals at every level,” says Kill. “We’ve focused heavily on strong communications, not only to galvanise our own community but also to realign the night-time industries within a cultural context so it’s recognised for its achievements and gets the backing it deserves.”

He continues, “It has been a political rollercoaster. In a bid to secure financial support packages and government clarity, we’ve come up against various task forces and departments, many with their own differing objectives and opinions. Nevertheless, campaigns like #LetUsDance and #Savenightlife have secured vital funding for the electronic music scene, raising £350k [€390k] in support of venues across the country, and securing unrivalled visibility for the cause. And there’s much more to come.

“At the NTIA, we continue to work tirelessly on behalf of the industry so that future generations can build the same connections, experiences and values that have been so pivotal to all our lives. For me – both personally and professionally – I know I wouldn’t be the same without it.”

 


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Millions expected to attend illegal parties on NYE

More than 5,000 unlawful parties are expected to take place in the UK over the new year weekend, the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) has warned.

The association, which represents more than 100 nightclubs, bars and music venues, says there is a risk of “millions of people converging across the UK” from 31 December–3 January, sparking fears of a fresh coronavirus outbreak in January.

The situation, it says, is exacerbated by the ongoing closure of most night-time businesses, which “would normally manage huge crowds of people through the new year’s celebrations”.

Illegal raves have been on the increase across Europe since the summer as frustration builds over coronavirus restrictions preventing legal gatherings.

“There is a growing concern that new year’s eve is going to culminate in social unrest”

“There is a growing concern that new year’s eve is going to culminate in social unrest and will see a substantial number of illegal parties and mass gatherings following the closure of businesses at 11pm, with a real risk of overwhelming the police and emergency services,” comments Michael Kill, CEO of the NTIA.

“We are estimating that the UK will be witness to over 5,000 illegal parties across new year’s eve weekend. The government needs to consider ways in which to manage this grave situation – people will want to celebrate the end of 2020 in their own way, so ignoring the issue will not resolve what will be a significant car crash in every sense of the term.”

Parklife promoter and Manchester night czar Sacha Lord adds: “The closure of hospitality venues in tier three, combined with the 11pm curfew elsewhere, only serves to encourage house parties and outdoor gatherings, and it’s inevitable we will see an increase of these on new year’s eve.

“I urge all those considering hosting or attending a gathering to think about those around them who may be vulnerable to Covid-19, and to put their health and safety first.”

 


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Dance music is art

Dance music has been gradually evolving since the 1970s, embedding its influence across generations. Dance music is continually changing, uniting multiple genres, cultures, nations, and histories to create a single art form.

Therefore, not only should electronic music demand its own recognition within the arts, but it should be recognised as the one unique musical art form that acts as a conduit for all other music genres as it constantly reinvents itself.

Electronic music does not discriminate, rather it brings together, regardless of age and background. It has long been established that club and festival dance culture is a vital part of British heritage, as well as generating millions of pounds in revenue for the economy, it adds to the ever-growing nightlife tourism figures boasting 300 million visits a year across the UK.

Given the investment of many European countries in the arts sector specifically supporting and recognising the value of classic and contemporary art forms, the UK government has been under immense pressure to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts by properly funding a sector that generates significant revenues for the exchequer.

On 5 July 2020, an announcement was made by the UK culture secretary highlighting a £1.57billion (€1.73bn) arts and culture fund.

Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, said, “Our arts and culture are the soul of our nation. They make our country great and are the lynchpin of our world-beating and fast-growing creative industries. I understand the grave challenges the arts face and we must protect and preserve all we can for future generations. Today we are announcing a huge support package of immediate funding to tackle the funding crisis they face. I said we would not let the arts down, and this massive investment shows our level of commitment.”

“Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative”

But when asked about potential support for music venues and festivals on the 9 July during Parliament, he announced the fund would “cover grassroots music venues, concert halls and indoor arenas… those wholly or mainly used for performance of live music for the purposes of entertaining an audience,” with no mention of clubs or festivals.

Sector trade bodies have continually asked for clarification from the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on whether dance music clubs, festivals and events will be included, but the department has so far failed to provide assurances or clarity, so we await the details of eligibility in the coming weeks.

The industry is astounded at the government’s failure to recognise dance music clubs and events within its narrative as part of arts and culture, and continues to drive a clear message regarding its eligibility to apply for the funding in line with the live sector.

What the government fails to understand is that much of the sector operates venues that house both live and dance/recorded music events, and in many cases, they survive symbiotically in support of each other with many successful examples within the market place.

Electronic music has always been a popular art form that reaches a diverse number of communities, but which now finds itself excluded, even if only by narrative!

Surely the Government can recognise the importance of this sector to youth culture, and through the rise of the illegal rave scene recognise the value of professional regulated spaces where people can enjoy themselves and the music safely.

The industry has to now drive the agenda, as we see the tide turn between removal of risk to management of risk, it’s time to get the science to work for us.

Dance music is the world’s third most popular music genre, with an estimated audience of over 1.5 billion. But, despite the global influence and economic importance of British dance music and culture, government support and clarity on the future of the sector has so far been very limited.

 


Michael Kill is CEO of the UK’s Night Time Industries Association.

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)

 


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