Live music industry ‘at the back of the queue to reopen’, says trade body

Festival goers watch a performance at the Outdoor Theatre during the Latitude Festival at Henham Park near Southwold, Suffolk
Festival goers watch a performance at the Outdoor Theatre during the Latitude Festival at Henham Park near Southwold, Suffolk.

The live music industry has found itself “at the back of the queue to reopen”, the chief executive of a trade body for the sector has said.

Greg Parmley, chief executive of Live – a trade body for the live music industry, welcomed the additional clarity given by the Prime Minister’s road map for the ending of lockdown, but said his sector “could be months behind the rest of the economy”.

He added: “The Chancellor must acknowledge our extended closure in the Budget and provide the economic support needed to ensure the jobs and livelihoods of the hundreds of thousands of people that work in our industry exist as we come through this pandemic.”

Capital FM Monster Mash Up with Voxi by Vodafone – London
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Mark Davyd, chief executive of the Music Venue Trust – a charity which represents grassroots venues, said the Government should provide the sector with more support.

He said: “It is good to hear the Government provide conditions under which initially socially distanced events, and then fuller capacity events, can take place.”

He added: “We note that this road map once again singles out live performance events as a specific risk which require that the sector is treated in a special way.

“Since March 2020, we have made the case to the Government that if this is the case, based on their interpretation of the data, then it is logical that the Government will choose to address that specific status with sector-specific financial support to mitigate the damage being done to businesses and people’s lives, careers and families right across the live music industry.”

The chief executive of the UK Music trade body has said it is “hugely welcome” that the Government has “set out a clear route to reopen the live music industry”.

Jamie Njoku-Goodwin added: “While the astounding success of the vaccine rollout means the end of the health emergency is in sight, the economic toll of this pandemic will be with us for a long time to come – making dynamic growth industries like the UK music industry more important than ever.

“The music industry can play a key role in the post-pandemic economic and social recovery, and live music events could be the shot in the arm that Britain needs as we look to bounce back from this pandemic.”

James Williams, managing director of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, said he is “still completely in the dark” over what “conditions and criteria” need to be met for full capacity audiences to be allowed to return.

“Until we have this information, it is difficult to find a way out of the situation in which we find ourselves,” he added.

The Theatres Trust, the national advisory public body for theatre, welcomed the announcement.

Coronavirus
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Jon Morgan, director of the organisation, said: “Theatres Trust supports the Government’s cautious approach to easing lockdown restrictions.

“We want to play our part in helping keep people safe and we do not want to be in a situation where theatres reopen too early only to be forced to close again after a short period.”

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association trade body, said: “We are pleased to hear within the Prime Minister’s statement the inclusion of a timeline for night-time economy businesses, in particular some of the hardest-hit businesses, many of which have been closed since March 2020, like nightclubs, bars and casinos.

“Despite this, our evidence suggests that 85% of those who work in the night-time economy are considering leaving the sector.

“The sector urgently needs additional clarity on reopening and critical financial support from the Chancellor if we are to avoid economic and social damage that will last a generation.”

The Without Walls arts organisation, which aims to promote the outdoor arts sector, also welcomed the lockdown exit strategy.

Chair Josephine Burns said: “We welcome the news of a cautious lockdown exit plan and gradual reopening of the economy, but Without Walls and its 35 partner organisations now appeal for the Government to outline clear guidelines for the outdoor arts to return to business.

Classic FM Live – Royal Albert Hall – London
(Matt Crossick/PA)

“Outdoor arts are a thriving part of the UK cultural landscape that are more important now than ever.”

David Keighley, chairman of the Production Services Association which represents those working in live performance production, said: “Whilst we fully understand the risk-averse approach to reopening, Government needs to be aware that live events excel in a risk-assessed approach, with the safety of attendees and workers always prioritised.

“The real risk that suppliers to events face is collapse. To avoid this will require effective financial support that reaches the whole events ecosystem, real support until our sector is allowed to return to viable levels of activity.

“This is the only way to ensure this valuable economic contributor is in a position to play its essential part in our country’s recovery.”

Julian Bird, chief executive of the Society of London Theatre and UK Theatre, the membership organisations which aim to promote the sector, said: “We welcome the Government’s road map announcement as the country takes the first steps towards easing lockdown, in particular, the news that theatre and live arts can resume performances from step 3, as early as May 17.

“The real route back for the sector, however, will be the step four announcements hopefully enabling full auditoriums from June 21.

“While our theatres remain closed, we urge the Chancellor to continue with the financial support packages needed for businesses and individuals.”

Caroline Norbury, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, called for urgent further Budget interventions following Mr Johnson’s road map.

She said: “Today’s road map includes some welcome milestones for reopening parts of the UK’s creative industries, including our world-leading theatres, cinemas and live events.

“However, it is critical that everyone in our sector is supported until they are able to resume normal levels of operation, which could be well beyond summer.”

And Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, said he was “disappointed” not to have an earlier opening date, but welcomed the announcement.

He said: “While – given the exemplary record of cinemas in delivering a safe big screen experience before this latest lockdown – we are disappointed not to have an earlier opening date, it is good to have some confirmation. We look forward to similar announcements across the rest of the UK.”

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