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:
- Nightclubs and adult entertainment venues.
- Unseated indoor live events with more than 500 people in the audience.
- Unseated outdoor live events with more than 4,000 people in the audience.
- Any event, of any nature, which has more than 10,000 people in attendance.
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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IFF ’21: WME, CAA, Marshall, MVT complete schedule
The full schedule for the 2021 edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) is now complete, with the final addition of WME, CAA, Marshall Live, and a final night in partnership with Music Venue Trust.
WME, CAA and Marshall Live join a line-up of partner agencies which already includes 13 Artists, ATC Live, Earth Agency, ICM Partners, ITB, Paradigm Agency, Primary Talent International, UTA and X-ray Touring, many of whom are showcasing new artists from their rosters.
IFF has also partnered with grassroots venue champions Music Venue Trust (MVT) to present the final night of their recent Revive Live tour, which is supported by the National Lottery. Taking place on Thursday 30 September (19:30 – late), MVT will present five unique artist showcases, with the full line up announced next week.
The completed schedule also includes a double keynote interview with Melvin Benn and Folkert Koopmans, as well as an array of sessions with high-profile speakers.
Replacing the usual closing party on the Thursday night of IFF, MVT will present five unique artist showcases
Joining IQ Magazine‘s Gordon Masson on The Therapy Session will be Earth agent and co-founder Claire Courtney, as well as Mercury Wheels @ Live Nation’s head promoter, Barnaby Harrod.
The Roaring 20s will see chair Clementine Bunel (Paradigm) take the stage with Jim King (AEG Presents), Lowlands Festival Director Eric van Eerdenburg; WME agent Andy Duggan; and Primary Talent International/Decked Out! agent Martje Kremers.
The Agency Business 2021 conversation, chaired by Anna Sjölund (Live Nation Sweden), will see One Fiinix Live’s Jon Ollier joined by ATC Live agent and founder Alex Bruford and Mad Cool festival booker Cindy Castillo.
Finally, virtual panel Counting the Cost of Brexit welcomes UTA senior agent James Wright to a lineup including Marshall Arts’ Craig Stanley, Anita Debaere from Pearle* and Annabella Coldrick of the MMF. Other online topics include sustainability and insurance.
Over 500 music festivals and booking agents are expected to attend the invitation-only event, which returns to Camden, north London, for the sixth in-person edition. This year’s physical event follows an online-only edition in 2020, in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some 500 delegates are expected to attend this year’s IFF
As the first major live music industry gathering in 18 months, IFF 2021 will kick off with the opening party on Tuesday 28 September and end late on Thursday 30 September. And with some international delegates still unable to travel to the UK, all of this year’s conference sessions will be available to watch back on-demand for up to 30 days after the event.
This year’s edition is supported by key partners that include Live Nation, Ticketmaster, Tysers and Megaforce. Association partners on the 2021 are Yourope, AIF and DeConcert!
More information about how to attend, along with the full event schedule is online at www.iff.rocks.
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UK report: Double vaccination rate higher in concertgoers
The double vaccination rate among UK concertgoers is substantially higher than in the country’s general population, according to a new report by Music Venue Trust (MVT).
More than three-quarters (76.3%) of people attending live music events in the UK were fully vaccinated, while just 61.3% of the general population received two jabs, it found at the time of data collection.
Furthermore, almost all UK concertgoers (91.6%) will have been fully vaccinated by the end of September if they complete their vaccination programme – again, substantially higher than predicted for the general population (77.9%).
According to the report, these statistics aren’t a coincidence; 91.3% of attendees had chosen to take an additional personal precaution such as double vaccination, testing or immunity to support their safety.
Despite a high vaccination rate among concertgoers, only 2.1% of live music fans wanted to see certified double vaccination as the sole mandatory condition of entry and 8.9% wanted to see mandatory certification of health status as a condition of entry to grassroots music venues.
Only 2.1% of live music fans wanted to see certified double vaccination as the sole mandatory condition of entry
A mix of mandatory certification options, displaying vaccination, testing or immunity, was more strongly supported by live music fans.
The findings are from a series of surveys and data collection exercises conducted by MVT during the first month of the full capacity reopening of grassroots music venues in the UK.
The audience survey recorded answers from 1,891 people who normally attended live music events prior to the Covid crisis.
While 221 grassroots music venues took part in a survey about the precautions they had taken around opening and the attendance at their events.
And 100 grassroots music venues were selected as representative of the sector, with case rates and transmission rates in their locality mapped to explore if the full capacity reopening of grassroots music venues had a discernible impact on local case rates.
In the local areas around a representative sample of 100 grassroots music venues, Covid-19 case rates declined by 39%
Notably, in the local areas around a representative sample of 100 grassroots music venues, Covid-19 case rates declined by 39%.
“The response from venues, artists and audiences to the Covid threat has been incredible,” says Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust.
“These survey results clearly demonstrate a will by the live music community to create safe spaces, to take personal responsibility for ourselves and each other, and to act to Reopen Every Venue Safely. It is particularly striking that local case and transmission rates around grassroots music venues, far from exponentially increasing as was predicted, have, in reality, exceeded the decline in rates witnessed nationally.”
Other findings from MVT’s report include:
- 86% of grassroots music venues are currently open and trading with a live music offer, equating to 817 venues, delivering over 13,000 shows in the last four weeks, to a total capacity audience in excess of two million people.
- 67.5% of grassroots music venues report that their advance ticket sales are down compared to their pre-Covid-19 advance ticket sales.
- 61.7% of grassroots music venues report that their turn up on the night (advanced sales and walk-up) is down compared to their pre-Covid-19 turn up on the night.
- 52.1% of grassroots music venues report that their bar take is down compared to their pre-Covid-19 bar take.
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UK gov confirms 19 July for full reopening
After more than a year of closure, the British live music industry will be able to fully reopen without restrictions from 19 July, it was confirmed today (12 July) by prime minister Boris Johnson.
As reported in IQ last week, from 19 July (the fourth and final stage of the UK government’s roadmap), large events, such as music concerts and sporting events can resume without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements and attendees will no longer be legally required to wear a face mask.
While the news has been welcomed by many across the business, the country’s rising infection rates in recent days sees the government “urging” nightclubs and large events to use Covid-status certification, a measure which may become mandated if cases continue to increase. For now, “the most at-risk events, such as nightclubs and mass indoor events, will be strongly encouraged to use as a ‘means of entry’ at venues” – but this will not be a legal requirement.
Updated guidance for the live events sector is due to be published tomorrow.
While today’s announcement is a crucial step forward for the £4.6 billion industry, there are many barriers that still remain which will severely impede the recovery of the sector.
The government has said on numerous occasions that it would address the market failure in Covid cancellation insurance once the country moved to Step 4, but plans for any kind of indemnity scheme are yet to be announced.
The live industry is also calling for a cultural exemption to isolation requirements for artists and crews, replaced instead by frequent testing. This would save productions from collapsing due to the need to isolate whole casts or crew when just one person in a bubble contracts Covid. From 16 August, fully vaccinated individuals will be exempt from needing to self isolate as part of the country’s Test & Trace programme.
“If government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable”
Finally, the sector is calling for an exemption that will enable international talent to perform on UK stages without the period of quarantine – which many are unable to do due to other commitments. The UK’s professional sporting sector has already obtained this exemption, allowing teams to come from around Europe to the UK to play in the European Championship without quarantining.
The UK live sector has welcomed today’s confirmation but echoes these unresolved concerns.
Paul Reed, CEO of the Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), says: “We welcome the Health Secretary’s confirmation of progressing to Step 4 of the lockdown roadmap. Government has repeatedly stated that once we are at this stage, it will examine if insurance is still an issue for events and intervene if necessary. We are now one week away from this date and the sector needs a long-overdue resolution to this problem.
“AIF is also working with the relevant government departments on the publication of guidance to ensure that festivals can reopen safely this summer, and organisers and local authorities alike can have confidence in their decision making and measures introduced – including Covid certification where considered appropriate. Ensuring the safety of audiences and risk mitigation has always been central to what festival organisers do each year and it will continue to be more so than ever as we begin to emerge from the pandemic.”
Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE, says: “Today is a fantastic day for live music – our members cannot wait to get back out there and put on the events safely that our fans have been missing this past year.
“While we have been waiting for this moment for the past year, commercial insurance is still not available – meaning organisers are faced with the prospect of huge financial losses should any restrictions need to change. If government really wants us to get back our feet, they need to make live events financially viable, provide the insurance scheme they have promised, and give the industry the confidence to invest for the long term.”
“In order to save the last few events of the 2021 season we must have the necessary guidance immediately”
Steve Heap, general secretary of The Association of Festival Organisers, says: “The Association of Festival Organisers is delighted to hear the Secretary of State tell the house that the government have no plans to start charging for lateral Flow Tests. Whilst we are of course also very pleased the government will take us to Step 4 on July 19th. However in order to save the last few events of the 2021 season we must have the necessary guidance immediately as festivals are trying to meet the required regulations at very short notice.”
David Keighley, Chair of the Production Services Association, says: “It is great news to hear that finally the government has confirmed the easing of restrictions on the 19th July. The success of the vaccination roll out has been the key factor in making the move to step 4 possible. Ironically we see very large increases in Covid cases at this time but if the vaccines mean the number of serious cases and hospitalisations remain relatively low, then it is right to open up our economy. Let’s all hope this remains the case in the coming months. There is still a level of uncertainty and we all need to be cautious throughout the summer and particularly moving into autumn.”
Mark Davyd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, says: “Music Venue Trust warmly welcomes the decision to permit grassroots music venues in England to open at full capacity from 19 July. For the last 12 months, we have been working tirelessly alongside venue operators to identify ways in which they can Reopen Every Venue Safely. That work remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, but today we want to reach out to live music fans and send them a simple message: It’s finally time to Revive Live.
“Please help your local venue in England to provide safe events by thinking about your personal responsibility, the things you can do to ensure that as well as keeping yourself safe you are also doing everything you can to support the safety of others. We have all been desperately seeking the opportunity to Revive Live Music, and to show that we can do that safely. Let’s take this opportunity and demonstrate that we are a community that cares about each other.”
Venues Day International to debut in October
Music Venue Trust (MVT), which represents 100s of grassroots music venues in the UK, has announced that its annual conference and networking event, which was postponed last year due to the pandemic, will now take place in October.
To enable as many venues as possible to participate, Venues Day 2021 – which takes place at Earth in London on Tuesday 5 October – will be a hybrid event incorporating Venues Day Online, a day of virtual activity on 12 October, to ensure every venue in the country gets access to best practice information, advice and guidance as they emerge from lockdown.
Another new event, the inaugural Venues Day International, will take place on 19 October. A partnership between MVT and Live DMA (Europe), Music Policy Forum (North America), Canadian Live Music Association, Live Music Office Australia and NIVA (US), Venues Day International is the first global event aimed exclusively at grassroots music venue operators and owners.
Venues Day International will also take place online and feature panels, presentations and discussion on shared challenges and opportunities across the world.
“We are incredibly excited … to have taken the challenge of the crisis head on and be delivering a hugely increased range and scope of events”
Venues Day is sponsored by Ticketmaster and Amazon, with additional support coming from Jack Daniel’s, White Light, ILMC and media partners IQ and NME.
Andrew Parsons, MD of Ticketmaster UK, says: “Venues Day has long been a pillar for the grassroots community, but this year’s will be a lifeline to so many venues around the country as we inch closer to reopening. The sheer graft of MVT throughout the pandemic to support the industry has been truly inspiring to see, and we’re happy to do our part and sponsor Venues Day 2021.”
“Music Venue Trust offers invaluable support to our industry, and initiatives such as the Grassroots Music Venues Crisis Service have provided a lifeline for many over the past year,” adds Patrick Clifton, UK head of music for Amazon Music. “At Amazon Music we’re proud to continue our partnership with MVT, to help bring Venues Day to grassroots sites across the country, providing guidance and advice to ensure they can safely open their doors to music fans.”
Beverley Whitrick, strategic director of Music Venue Trust, comments: “Venues Day 2021 will further encourage collaboration and sharing, connecting venues across the world so they feel part of a growing movement to emphasise how vital they are to both the wider music industry and local communities. We are incredibly excited to not only be able to deliver the existing event, but to have taken the challenge of the crisis head on and to be delivering a hugely increased range and scope of events with our domestic and international partners.”
Music venues to benefit from London’s £6m campaign
London’s live music venues are set to benefit from a £6 million campaign to boost the capital’s culture, hospitality and retail economies, as the city reopens under the government’s roadmap.
The mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, launched the campaign yesterday, hours after his re-election for a second term was confirmed.
The initiative, dubbed ‘Let’s Do London’, aims to harnesses the talents of major London arts and culture institutions with the mantra ‘jobs, jobs, jobs’.
Speaking to Time Out, Khan said: “Let’s Do London is the biggest tourism campaign our city has ever seen. The reason it’s so important is that the last 15 months have been incredibly tough for us. But I also recognise not just the intrinsic enjoyment we get from retail, culture and hospitality, but that one in five jobs in London are in those areas. We’ve got to make sure that we bounce back as quickly as possible to avoid mass unemployment, leading to a massive recession.
“Let’s Do London is about bringing all the key players in London together: the Globe, the National Theatre, the Southbank, the V&A, the O2, great chefs, great artists like David Hockney, great live music venues, pubs, bars and restaurants. We want to make sure that this summer is the best summer we’ve ever seen.”
“We’ve got to make sure that we bounce back as quickly as possible to avoid mass unemployment, leading to a recession”
Last year, international tourism to London fell by a reported 90% due to the coronavirus pandemic. Khan says he expects this year will be similar to the last and that it will be vital the capital attracts more visitors from around the UK.
As per the government’s roadmap, British music venues are permitted to reopen with social distancing measures and capacity limits from next week (17 May).
Indoor performances will be restricted to the lower of 1,000 people or 50% capacity, outdoor performances limited to the lower of either 4,000 people or 50% capacity, and seated outdoor performances, to either 10,000 people or 25% of capacity.
According to a recent survey from Music Venue Trust, it is estimated that there will be 91,500 individual live performances during the period, offering over 300,000 work opportunities for musicians as they finally get the chance to return to paid employment.
While UK music fans are eager to return to live music as quickly as possible, according to a survey of 25,000 commissioned by UK trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
UK festivals benefit from substantial CRF grants
Glastonbury, Boomtown Fair and Cheltenham Jazz Festival have been awarded substantial grants in round two of the UK government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund (CRF2).
The 2,700 recipients of the CRF2 were announced last Friday by culture secretary Oliver Dowden, who said Glastonbury’s £900,000 grant would help the festival stage two smaller events this year, including the recently announced Live at Worthy Farm, and would help sustain it until 2022.
Boomtown was awarded £991,000, which the organisers say will secure the future of the festival, and Cheltenham Jazz Festival was awarded £290,000.
We’re grateful to have been offered an award from the Culture Recovery Fund. After losing millions from the cancellation of our last two Festivals, this grant will make a significant difference in helping to secure our future. @ace_southwest @DCMS @ace_national #HereForCulture
— Glastonbury Festival (@glastonbury) April 2, 2021
Other festivals to benefit in the latest round of the CRF are Sea Change Festival (£126,000), Standon Calling (£418,465), Y Not Festival (£120,000), Towersey Festival £104,000), Bestival and Camp Bestival founder Rob da Banks’ Sunday Best Recordings Ltd (£92,000), Noisily Festival (£78,000), Strawberries and Creem (£75,000) and Nozstock (£32,000).
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), confirmed that 70% of the members who applied for a grant in CRF2 have been offered funding, which amounts to over £5.5m with an average grant of almost £126,000.
“We thank the Treasury, DCMS and Arts Council England for this lifeline, and for investing in some of this summer’s independent festivals, enabling them to survive and continue planning in the short term,” says Paul Reed, CEO at AIF.
Thanks to the funding we’ve received from the government’s #CultureRecoveryFund we’re all set to build on our digital…
“AIF worked tirelessly to ensure that festivals were eligible for the fund in the first place, and to support and service members at every step – sharing information, engaging funding specialists, organising online sessions and working around the clock to support applications.
“This latest government support is invaluable. However, as with the first round, it is important to note that this money did not reach the entire sector, that it will only support some festivals until the end of June and that hurdles remain before festivals are able to plan with confidence – not least the absence of a government intervention on insurance. It is also critically important that the Events Research Programme explores challenges and mitigations around all types of events including festivals.”
Among the grassroots venues to receive grants from the CRF2 are Hull’s The New Adelphi Club (£30,000), The Louisiana in Bristol (£63,000), Cambridge Junction (£248,083), Brudenell Social Club (£213,853) in Leeds and London’s Troubadour (£272,828).
Music Venue Trust (MVT) strategic director, Beverley Whitrick, says: “MVT has worked hard to support eligible grassroots music venues in their applications to this fund and we are delighted that members of the Music Venues Alliance (MVA) have now been awarded almost £16million in support.
“This represents an 80% success rate for MVA members, many of whom had never applied for public funding prior to this pandemic. This money is aimed at securing venues until the end of June 2021.”
Music Venue Trust represents over 900 venues across the UK.
Other successful applicants of the CRF2 include event industry suppliers and service providers such as A&J Big Tops Limited (£545,000), AB Lighting (£79,000) and Symphotech (£60,000).
The CRF was increased by £300m earlier this year as part of chancellor Rishi Sunak’s March budget.
For the full list of recipients, visit the Arts Council England website.
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.
Unsung Heroes 2020: Music Venue Trust
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 the UK’s Music Venue Trust, which follows Musically Fed’s Maria Brunner.
Led by husband and wife founders, Mark Davyd and Beverley Whitrick, Music Venue Trust (MVT) also counts Clara Cullen, Sarah Claudine and Menna Grasser as its core team.
However, during the pandemic, MVT has enhanced its team with a number of national and regional co-ordinators who include Nick Stewart, Sam Dabb, Stu Fletcher, Jay Taylor, Danni Brownsill, Chris Sherrington, Harkirit Boparai, Luke Hinton, Sophie Asquith, Keiron Marshall, Sam Jones, Geoff Priestley, Barney Jeavons, Tom Maddicott, Matt Otridge, Toni Coe-Brooker and Lucy Stone.
Strategic director Beverley Whitrick explains, “Music Venue Trust started 2020 with plans to build on the success of 2019 – the first year in which more grassroots music venues (GMVs) opened than closed in the UK. Having spent the last few years trying to build understanding of the vital role that these venues play as cultural, social and economic hubs and creating a community of venues (the Music Venues Alliance, or MVA), we planned to move to a more formal, paid membership model and travel around the country consulting widely with the people who run these venues.”
As the coronavirus pandemic spread and restrictions hit live music and venues hard, that strategy, of course, had to be scrapped. “Instead we found ourselves completely changing plans, appointing lots of temporary team members, and the MVA growing from 600 venues in January to over 900 by November (membership is still free).”
At the start of 2020, MVT had only two full-time members of staff, but Whitrick pays tribute to the committed team members who stepped up to focus full-time on the plight of the UK’s small venues, which, in history, have never needed more help.
“We needed three things: more money, more people and more lobbying power”
“Our early surveys and reports identified that we needed three things: more money, more people and more lobbying power,” says Whitrick. “We created #SaveOurVenues to try and tackle all three, embarking on a huge crowdfunding campaign to pay for a bigger team and raise money for venues, while also creating a focus for PR and lobbying.”
That effort worked. Since the end of April, more than £3 million (€3.3m) has been raised thanks to artists, photographers, designers, merch companies, music industry donors, music fans and the mayor of London.
The money raised enabled MVT to appoint MVA coordinators across the UK to work individually with every venue in the network and to assist clubs and businesses to apply for any money they could claim from governments or local authorities.
“Key to our work has been giving all layers of government reports about the financial interventions needed to sustain venues. We have worked with cultural funders to help design funding, and then guided venues through the process of applying for funding – most of them for the first time.
“This work is ongoing, but so far £60m [€67m] has been secured by GMVs, exceeding our expectations of the recognition they would receive for their cultural value. Our team has been incredible at teaching, supporting and encouraging people who had never thought they could (or should) have to lay out why their work is as eligible for support as any theatre, concert hall or arts centre.”
Unfortunately, not everyone was eligible or successful in obtaining funds, so the work continues. Whitrick adds, “MVT always aims to be practical and effective. We also understand the need for mental health support, and are grateful that our venue community exists and is well supported by other parts of the music ecosystem. We are still working on ways to reopen every venue safely, and hope that will happen soon so we can all get back to experiencing live music in intimate spaces.”
UK industry welcomes u-turn on alcohol ban
Figures from across the UK’s live music business have welcomed a government U-turn on newly introduced restrictions that would have stopped venues selling alcohol without a full meal. The news comes after a week of intense lobbying from the sector, in particular by umbrella organisation LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).
The British government last week announced a ban on selling alcohol without food for establishments in tier 2, one of the three new tier restriction levels being introduced this week. Tier 2 currently comprises around 60% of the population of England.
With alcohol sales typically making a majority of a venue’s income, and hundreds of venues unable to serve a full meal, the legislation was poised to shut down a large swathe of the sector. Today’s news gives many venues and promoters the ability to programme shows in December and January, albeit still in line with current guidelines on social distancing.
The exemption inserted into the legislation applies “where alcohol is being provided to a customer at a cinema, theatre, concert hall or sportsground and the alcohol is ordered by, and served to, a customer who has a ticket for an exhibition of a film, a performance or an event of training or competition at the venue, to consume in the area where the audience is seated to watch the exhibition, performance or event”.
Phil Bowdery, chair of the Concert Promoters Association, says: “LIVE is delighted that the government has listened to our calls to allow alcohol to be sold at live music venues under the new tier 2 restrictions. This announcement is hugely important for our industry as stopping the sale of alcohol was going to mean that even if venues were technically able to open under tier 2, they wouldn’t have been able to financially.
“This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events”
“There’s still a long way to go for the live music industry to recover, and the new situation is extremely challenging for those in tier 3, but we’re grateful to all those involved, in the industry and in government, for securing this sensible step.”
Mark Dayvd, CEO at Music Venue Trust, says: “Music Venue Trust and LIVE worked hard with the government to make the case that the consumption of culture and the consumption of food should be treated equally. We are delighted that guidance has been issued that makes it clear that ticketed events at grassroots music venues can go ahead in tier 2 with alcohol on sale. It makes a direct difference to the number of shows that can be delivered and is a significant step forward in the campaign to Revive Live Music and Reopen Every Venue Safely.”
Nathan Clark, board member at the Association of Independent Promoters, adds: “This decision represents a significant opportunity to all in the music industry to economically work on events, and to also utilise any Culture Recovery Funding. It gives a potential lifeline opportunity to both grassroots venues and promoters that simply wouldn’t have been possible without this amendment. A huge step in the right direction for music.”
The new three-tier system will replace the national lockdown that expires on 2 December. Under tier 2 restrictions, concert halls are permitted to open with up to 1,000 people or 50% occupancy, whichever is smaller, in addition to the existing regulation around maintaining social distancing.
Under tier 3 (which reportedly accounts for 41.5% of the population of England) all hospitality will close except for delivery and takeaway, including indoor entertainment venues. Areas in tier three include vast swathes or the north-east, north-west, Yorkshire and the Humber, the south-west and the East and West Midlands, as well parts of Kent and the south-east – meaning many music venues in the UK will remain closed.