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Sacha Lord appointed chair of NTIA board

Parklife and The Warehouse Project co-founder Sacha Lord has been appointed chair of the UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) board of directors.

Lord, who is night time economy advisor for Greater Manchester, has worked with the NTIA and stakeholders across the UK over the last two years.

The trade association has been at the heart of the fight to gain representation and support for businesses throughout the pandemic.

“The Night Time Industries Association is a critical player in the sector, and has been a key voice in representing operators, not just in London but nationally across the UK,” says Lord.

“I am honoured to be joining as chair at this pivotal time in the sector’s recovery. There is still so much work to be done to help operators through these difficult times, and I wholly support the NTIA in their efforts to create better working practices for those in the industry, achieve greater funding for businesses nationwide, and develop vital initiatives to ensure everyone working within, or using the night time economy, gets home safely.”

“We are looking forward to harnessing his passion and drive in establishing a stronger voice for the sector”

NTIA CEO Michael Kill adds: “I have been lucky enough to have worked very closely with Sacha over the last three years, and alongside welcoming him as the chair of the board of directors at the Night Time Industries Association, would like to personally thank him on behalf of the industry for his exceptional work and support during the crisis.

“As a leading figurehead within our industry, we are looking forward to harnessing his passion and drive in establishing a stronger voice for the sector, adding another dimension to the public and political agenda to drive home positive change, and support an extremely ambitious strategy for the sector in the future. The unanimous appointment by the board is testament to the tireless work that he has put into representing this industry.”


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UK grassroots sector facing fresh Covid crisis

The Music Venue Trust (MVT) has warned the UK’s grassroots circuit is on the brink of collapse in the wake of fresh government restrictions.

The organisation reports that small venues have been hit by a catastrophic drop in attendance, advance ticket sales and spend per head since last Wednesday’s announcement of Plan B measures to tackle the spread of the Omicron variant, placing the entire sector back on red alert for the risk of permanent closures.

As a result, the MVT is calling on culture secretary Nadine Dorries to create a ring-fenced stabilisation fund to protect the sector, stressing that significant funding from the £1.7 billion Culture Recovery Fund remains unspent and unallocated.

“This is the busiest time of the year for grassroots music venues, representing more than 20% of their annual income being raised during the party season,” says MVT strategic director Beverley Whitrick.

“Rapid declines in attendance at this time of year represent an exponential threat to the whole sector, and losses of this magnitude cannot be sustained without throwing hundreds of music venues into crisis mode and at risk of permanent closure. A ‘no show’ isn’t just lost ticket income, it’s lost bar take and excess staff costs.”

It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020

The MVT says losses over the last week were close to £2 million, with 86% of venues reporting negative impacts and 61% having to cancel at least one event. The biggest causes of cancellations were a performer/member of the touring party testing positive for Covid (35.6%), private hire bookings cancelled by the organiser (31.3%) and poor sales performance (23.6%).

MVT CEO Mark Davyd likens the predicament to the early days of the pandemic.

“It feels like we are back exactly where we were in March 2020, when confusing government messaging created a ‘stealth lockdown’ – venues apparently able to open but in reality haemorrhaging money at a rate that will inevitably result in permanent closures unless the government acts quickly to prevent it,” he says.

“We have been here before. This time the government already has all the tools in place that it needs to manage this impact and prevent permanent closures in the grassroots music venue sector. The Culture Recovery Fund can be swiftly adapted to mitigate this economic impact, the money is already there and waiting, we just need the secretary of state to act quickly.

“The government previously used business rate suspension and VAT cuts to support and sustain the sector. We don’t need to spend time considering the situation; the government already knows what can be done and can choose very quickly to do it.”

MPs yesterday voted to back the government’s “Plan B” measures to tackle Omicron by introducing vaccine certificates or negative lateral flow tests to enter venues. The move was criticised by Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) chief Michael Kill.

“We are disappointed that MPs have voted into law covid passports for nightclubs,” he says. “The NTIA have consistently opposed their introduction due to the many logistical challenges they pose for night time economy businesses and what we have seen in Scotland and Wales where they have dampened trade by 30% and 26% respectively.

“It is very disappointing that, after flip flopping on the issue twice, the government have decided to press ahead with the plans despite no evidence of their impact on transmission of the virus.”

IQ has compiled the latest live music restrictions affecting key international touring markets in Europe here, and the rest of the world here.


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Vaccine passports to be introduced in England

Vaccine passports and facemasks will be required in order to attend concerts in England as part of tougher restrictions unveiled by the government in response to the Omicron variant.

Speaking at a hastily arranged press conference in Downing Street, prime minister Boris Johnson said the rapid increase in infections meant it was necessary to implement its “Plan B” measures to combat the spread of the virus.

The new rules, he said, would “help to keep these events and venues open at full capacity, while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others”.

From next Wednesday (15 December), the wearing of face masks will be mandated in all venues where crowds gather, and Covid certificates will be needed for:

* Venues where large crowds gather, including nightclubs

* Unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people

* Unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people

The introduction of a negative LFT in the certification scheme follows extended lobbying by the sector to include the measure in any new restrictions. Earlier this week the Scottish government also added LFTs to their own rules.

Johnson added that, “The NHS Covid Pass can still be obtained with two doses but we will keep this under review as the boosters roll out.”

The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard

Reacting to the announcement, a spokesperson for music trade body LIVE said: “The introduction of Plan B results in an unfair double standard that allows people to go on all-day pub crawls in crowded bars without having to prove their Covid-19 status, whilst live music venues get hit with certification.

“Across the country, music venues and events already have tried, tested and workable systems in place to ensure that live events continue to be safe – and these remain effective. However, after such a prolonged closure throughout the pandemic it is important the industry is able to remain open and that the government have listened to the industry and included the use of lateral flow testing in covid certification.”

The botched rollout of Scotland’s vaccine passport app earlier this autumn cost venues £250,000 a week, according to the Music Venue Trust.

The Scottish Music Venues Alliance reported a 39% dip in business per week, amounting to £249,471.23, since vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs on 1 October, while a vast majority of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.

Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses

Mark Davyd, CEO Music Venue Trust, says: “Whilst this is obviously a blow to the progress in the battle against the virus, we are pleased that the government has listened to the grassroots music venue sector and adopted a Covid Pass policy that recognises testing and applies to larger gatherings – those venues operating at above 500 capacity.

“MVT’s #TakeaTest policy has been extremely successful in limiting infection incidents in grassroots music venues, and we welcome the announcement that this has been recognised in the new policy. Regardless of the size of the event you are attending, we continue to urge music lovers to #TakeaTest”.

Michael Kill, CEO of the Night-time Industries Association (NTIA), adds: “Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on night-time economy businesses, as we seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented. Trade is down 30% in Scotland and 26% in Wales following their implementation.

“The UK government have twice ruled out vaccine passports before twice changing their mind. The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the government have arrived at the worst possible time – the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector. And now it is announced damaging vaccine passports are to be implemented.”

Check out the latest information on certification schemes, social distancing requirements, mask mandates, capacity restrictions and lockdowns affecting key European markets here.


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UK live sector gives mixed reaction to 2021 budget

The UK’s live music industry has given a mixed response to chancellor Rishi Sunak’s budget, unveiled today (27 October) in the House of Commons.

The chancellor, who upgraded this year’s economic growth forecast from 4% to 6.5%, pledged an additional £850 million in culture sector funding, the majority of which is ring-fenced (including £2m earmarked for a new Beatles attraction on Liverpool Waterfront), alongside temporary business rates relief in England for eligible retail, hospitality, and leisure properties for 2022-23, worth almost £1.7 billion.

The government is also freezing the business rates multiplier in 2022-23 – a tax cut worth £4.6bn over the next five years, and has increased the headline rate of orchestra tax relief.

However, calls to extend the VAT break on tickets sales beyond next March fell on deaf ears, and no improvements to the government’s £800m insurance scheme for live events were forthcoming. In addition, no cash was allocated to help the sector deal with Brexit’s impact on touring, while the absence of the word ‘music’ from the budget document left a sour taste.

“We’re glad to see that live music will receive some benefit from today’s spending review – including tax relief, business rates, and some extension in terms of funding,” says a spokesperson for trade body LIVE (Live music Industry Venues and Entertainment).

We need government to give us the tools to make progress, which were, unfortunately, missing from today’s news

“However, with the word ‘music’ completely absent from today’s announcement, we remain steadfast in our drive to see government pay attention to the key issues we are facing: the impacts of Brexit, the recovery from Covid and the long-term growth of the sector. We need government to give us the tools to make progress, which were, unfortunately, missing from today’s news.”

It remains to be seen whether music will be eligible for the £52m of government funding set aside for museums and “cultural and sporting bodies” next year to support recovery from Covid-19, with an additional £49m allocated for 2024-25.

“We look forward to hearing more detail about some of the measures announced by the chancellor today, in particular the allocation of further Covid-19 recovery funding for the cultural sector,” says Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed. “On the surface, however, it doesn’t go far enough in supporting our truly world-leading festival industry.

“It is clear that the most effective way for the government to support the industry’s recovery into 2022 and beyond would be to extend the VAT reduction on tickets, look closely at a permanent cultural VAT rate, and completely remove festivals based on agricultural land from the business rates system. Unfortunately, none of this was forthcoming today.”

Referencing UK Music’s latest This Is Music report, which revealed the impact of Covid-19 wiped out 69,000 music industry jobs – one in three of the total workforce – the organisation’s CEO, Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, says further action is needed to support the music sector’s post-pandemic recovery.

“It is crucial that we get government support to help us continue to rebuilding and hiring people who went so long without work due to the pandemic,” he says.

“Covid halved music’s economic contribution to the UK economy from almost £6 billion a year to £3.1 billion in 2020. If the government strikes the right note by delivering the support we need, our music industry will come back stronger and bigger than ever.”

The government has missed an opportunity

Setting out a three-point plan to boost the business, Njoku-Goodwin adds: “We are pleased to see the extension of the orchestras tax relief yet the government has missed an opportunity to not take forward further music tax incentives to help boost jobs and economic growth. Similarly, business rate relief for venues is very welcome yet we remain concerned about next April’s VAT hike for live events.  

“Ministers must put turbo-chargers under the efforts to clear away the barriers that are still making it so hard and expensive for musicians and crew to tour easily in the EU. As the domestic music market recovers, the government should also build on recent trade deals by giving more funding and support for music exports.

“As well as music’s huge economic and cultural importance, we also need to see the government fully recognise its huge value to our wellbeing by properly funding music education to help nurture our talent pipeline and provide the stars of the future.”

AIM CEO Paul Pacifico welcomes new measures for venues and hospitality, but stresses the importance of a tax relief scheme for music.

“It’s encouraging to see the government recognise the serious blow Covid dealt to the UK’s music industry in today’s budget, discounting business rates for music and other hospitality venues and for premises improvements and green tech use as well as increasing tax reliefs for orchestras,” he says.

“However, more must be done to support the globally significant independent music sector to ensure a viable future for diverse music, creators and entrepreneurs. One key proposal is a tax relief scheme for music, like those successfully implemented in other creative industries such as film and games. This cost-effective measure could provide our sector with the boost it needs, attracting inward investment and creating a ripple effect across the wider music ecosystem. We urge government to include music in such schemes at the next opportunity.”

There were also contrasting emotions from Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) chief Michael Kill.

“The improved forecasts for growth announced by the chancellor today are good news, and the reopening of the night time economy has been a key part of this better-than-expected bounce back,” says Kill. “We were disappointed that the chancellor chose not to extend the 12.5% rate of VAT on hospitality – this is a missed opportunity, and it will prevent those forecasts from improving further still.”


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UK: 90,000 cultural jobs lost due to pandemic

Around 86,000 jobs in the UK’s cultural nighttime economy sector have been lost due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report.

The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), which commissioned the report, says it has found that the sector has been “ravaged” by the pandemic.

The report shows for the first time the value of the UK’s nighttime cultural economy, which was 1.6% of GDP – or £36.4 billion – in 2019. This contribution accounted for 425,000 jobs across the UK.

The NTIA says there are fears that many of the jobs lost to the pandemic in the nighttime economy sector will be lost for good, with businesses closing and persistently lower demand for services.

The association has warned that it is “the worst possible time to introduce vaccine passports, which will further damage a sector essential to the economic recovery”.

“We are calling for [the chancellor] to extend the 12.5% rate of VAT on hospitality until 2024, including door sales”

“[This report is] timely because at this moment, governments in Scotland and Wales are pressing ahead with chaotic vaccine passport plans, and the UK government refuses to rule out their use in England,” says Michael Kill, CEO at NTIA.

“It is crucial the chancellor uses the upcoming Budget to support this beleaguered sector. We are calling for him to extend the 12.5% rate of VAT on hospitality until 2024, include door sales in that reduced rate of VAT, because the present system punishes nightclubs that rely on door sales rather than selling tickets, and for him to ensure there are no increases in alcohol duties – our sector really cannot afford any additional burdens.”

The last Budget took place on 3 March 2021 and included an extra £300 million for the Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), ‘restart grants’ for hospitality/leisure businesses, the extension of the coronavirus job retention scheme (furlough) and self-employed income support (SEISS) schemes, and business rate relief.

The budget also confirmed an extension of the 5% rate of VAT on ticket sales for a further six months, with an interim rate of 12.5% until April 2022.


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Scottish gov apologises for vaccine passport ‘shambles’

The first minister of Scotland today apologised to the event industry for the botched rollout of the country’s vaccine passport app.

Vaccine certification became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday (1 October) but ‘a vast majority’ of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app, according to the events sector.

Scottish venues reported high levels of customer frustration over the lack of information from government and the chaotic rollout of the app.


In her weekly Covid-19 update this afternoon, first minister Nicola Sturgeon said NHS Scotland systems were to blame for the troubled launch rather than the app itself.

Sturgeon went on to say that the “initial backlog” of those waiting for the vaccine passport had been “cleared” by Saturday (2 October) lunchtime and that the Scottish government would continue to monitor the performance of the app.

“As anticipated, the rollout of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street”

However, the event industry – which warned against the policy – is calling for the scheme to be scrapped immediately to avoid further damage to a ‘very fragile nighttime economy’.

Donald Macleod, MD Holdfast Entertainment/CPL, said: “Sadly and predictably [Friday’s] front door trialling of the Scottish Government’s new Covid Certification App proved to be problematic and highly confusing, with the vast majority of punters unable to access the app or show the required proof. This is an APP-ALLING shambles which if allowed to continue will have a devastating effect on the very fragile night-time economy. This ridiculous ‘Big Brother’ experiment and infringement of an individual’s civil rights should be dropped immediately.”

Mike Grieve, chairperson NTIA Scotland & Sub Club director, said: “As anticipated, the rollout of this ill-conceived policy led to chaos and confusion in the street [on Friday] with only a handful of our customers in possession of a functioning app passport. Around 50-60 others had a photocopy or screenshot of the wrong vaccination information or other spurious evidence of vaccination. Despite this we successfully checked all attendees for same-day LFTs to protect the health and safety of our customers and staff. What a shambles!”

Tony Cochrane, director of Club Tropicana, said: “The majority of customers at my clubs throughout Scotland told us they were annoyed and frustrated at multiple failed attempts to download the vaccine app and lost all faith in it. Others found no guidance on how to get it. You only get one chance to launch anything and this one must be one of the greatest failures ever. Public confidence in this has gone.”

Sturgeon said that Covid certification remains, in the Scottish government’s view, “a proportionate way of helping large events and night-time hospitality to keep operating during a potentially difficult winter”.


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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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UK: No live music in NI, no music at all in Scotland

Scottish music venues struggling under the weight of restrictions on live events are being further penalised by a draconian ban on all background music, according to the owners of nightlife businesses.

The devolved Scottish government introduced the ban on 14 August, citing an increased risk of Covid-19 transmission when people raise their voices to be heard in venues, pubs and restaurants. However, the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) – which says it believes the ban to be unique in the world, with Scotland the only country to have completely outlawed background music – says the ban lacks scientific evidence and is placing extra pressure on already strained businesses.

Promoter Donald Macleod, of Holdfast Events, says: “The sound of silence is now killing much of Scotland’s hospitality sector and beleaguered night-time economy; don’t let that be our nation’s Covid legacy. In the words of Plato: ‘Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything.’”

“The background music ban is the kiss of death to ambience within the hospitality sector,” agrees Andrew Fleming Brown, managing director of Glasgow venue SWG3 (4,000-cap.). “There has not been any scientific evidence presented to support the ban, and, in fact, the only evidence indicates it has the reverse effect.”

In response to the ban – which also extends to the sound of televisions in pubs – the NTIA has announced a campaign, #DontStopTheMusic, which calls on supporters to share their favourite song of all time along with the #DontStopTheMusic hashtag.

“Our already damaged sector is in serious danger of being permanently wiped out”

Michael Grieve, chairman of NTIA Scotland, comments: “The total ban on background music is having a severe effect on many hospitality businesses, leading to completely sterile environments which some have likened to visiting a library.

“It seems completely disproportionate relative to other settings – and while our industry is totally committed to the serious public health imperatives which the Scottish government is focused on, our already damaged sector is in serious danger of being permanently wiped out unless this ban is removed.”

Like in the rest of Great Britain, pubs, clubs and other indoor spaces are Scotland are currently subject to a 10pm curfew, with only concert venues and theatres exempt if a performance has already started.

Elsewhere in the UK, authorities in Northern Ireland have confirmed that new restrictions introduced on 23 September include a total ban on live music.

In a summary of the new legal requirements for venues where alcohol is served, the Northern Irish tourist board, in a section on ‘entertainment and noise’, reveals that live music is “not permitted”, along with recorded music “for the purposes of dancing (ie DJs)”.

Recorded background music is still allowed in the country, though businesses are required to ensure they keep background music and televised sport at a volume where patrons do not need to raise their voices to speak.

“We call for the government to engage with our sector before imposing seemingly arbitrary decisions on an already struggling industry”

Northern Ireland does, however, have a slightly later curfew for hospitality businesses than in Great Britain: 11pm, as opposed to ten.

Colin Neill from industry group Hospitality Ulster describes the announcement today of a curfew as “another blow to our industry”.

“The sector is going to lose hours, it’s losing staff and it has lost live music, and needs to be given a fighting chance,” he says.

Alan Simms, founder of legendary dance music brand Shine and director of Belfast venue Limelight, says he has seen “no medical, scientific or behavioural evidence in favour of such curfews”, and that ejecting patrons at 11pm will push them “out of safe premises with social distancing measures into the streets en masse, and drive substantially higher footfall to unregulated environments, as has been observed in England at the weekend.”

“Furthermore, we believe we can deliver, and have already delivered, live music events safely within government guidelines, and call for the [Northern Ireland] Executive to engage with our sector before imposing seemingly arbitrary decisions on an already struggling industry,” he adds.

Along with their colleagues in England, Wales and Scotland, Northern Irish crew and touring staff took to the streets in recent days as part of the #WeMakeEvents campaign.


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