The pandemic has caused a terrible ripple effect across the economy, and the music industry is under serious threat.
Music events and live entertainment is not going to be back for some time, and it’s an incredibly worrying period for those who work in the sector.
In response to this, artists and organisations from across the UK music sector have united today in a campaign drawing attention to the urgent situation performers and venues find themselves in.
#LetTheMusicPlay was launched by UK Music, and calls on the government to offer: ‘A clear conditional timeline for reopening venues without social distancing’, and ‘an immediate comprehensive business and employment support package’, which should include ‘a Government-backed insurance scheme to allow shows to go ahead; an extension of the furlough scheme and help for the self-employed and sole traders to prevent mass redundancies; [and] rent breaks for venues to allow them to reopen.‘
A report published last month by Oxford Economics and commissioned by the Creative Industries Federation, which was supported by UK Music, has suggested that without help, the music industry ‘is projected to lose at least £3 billion in GVA (50 per cent) and 60 per cent of jobs (114,000)’.
Many social media users have taken to platforms sharing their photos, videos and memories of the final concert they attended using the #LetTheMusicPlay hashtag. Those who perform or simply enjoy all genres – including classical – are getting involved in.
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The live music industry was one of the first to be hit by the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown and will be one of the last to get back on its feet. Government support has been vital for so many in our sector. However, this support is now tapering to an end, and with no clear timeline on when the industry can return to full capacity, festivals and venues are struggling to survive. Like other countries such as Germany and Australia, we need the Government to help the music industry, which contributes £5.2 billion to the economy annually and sustains almost 200,000 jobs, to ensure it remains world-leading following the damage caused by this pandemic. The music industry has come together with a major campaign to highlight the huge challenges for the industry and some possible solutions. Our campaign is called #LetTheMusicPlay. It has support right across the industry and gathering huge public support too. Read more to find out what we are asking for, why it is needed, what we are doing and what you can do. ukmusic.org/policy/let-the-music-play
So far, an open letter has been signed by 560 major artists from the pop and rock world and beyond in support of the campaign. It says, ‘Like every part of the entertainment industry, live music has been proud to play our part in the national effort to reduce the spread of Coronavirus and keep people safe. But, with no end to social distancing in sight or financial support from government yet agreed, the future for concerts and festivals and the hundreds of thousands of people who work in them looks bleak.’ The campaign has also been backed by a number of high profile artists including Dua Lipa, Ed Sheeran, Skepta, and Paul McCartney.
‘This sector doesn’t want to ask for government help. The venues, promoters, festival organisers, and other employers want to be self-sufficient, as they were before lockdown. But, until these businesses can operate again, which is likely to be 2021 at the earliest, government support will be crucial to prevent mass insolvencies, and the end of this great world-leading industry.’
A £160m emergency financial package from Arts Council England was given to the arts sector in March, but with no end currently in sight for restrictions on performance more money is desperately needed to support musicians in the meantime.
The government last week published a roadmap listing the order of steps that will be taken to return the performing arts to its pre-pandemic state, though it did not contain a timeline, or an announcement of additional funding. In a Tweet yesterday the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden said ‘I understand the deep anxiety of those working in music & the desire to see fixed dates for reopening. I am pushing hard for those dates & to give you a clear roadmap back. These involve v[ery] difficult decisions about the future of social distancing, which we know has saved lives’.
To find out more about the #LetTheMusicPlay campaign, visit UK Music’s website.
Part of this article was originally published on Gramophone.co.uk.