Live music stars in plea for Government help for £4.5bn sector

Stars from the UK’s live music sector, alongside thousands of crew and venues, are today issuing an urgent plea for support from the UK Government during what would have been the UK’s world-famous festival season.

The appeal, made in a letter to the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, is signed by 1,500 artists, many of whom were due to perform at festivals this summer, including Glastonbury, Leeds, Reading, Kendal Calling, Green Man, Latitude, All Points East, Parklife, TRNSMT, and hundreds more across the country. Thousands of other people vital to the success of the industry have also added their names.

The call to government comes as new research commissioned by the industry demonstrates the vital economic contribution of the live music sector. As well as supporting 210,000 jobs across the country, venues, concerts, festivals and production companies added £4.5bn to the economy in 2019.

But, because they’re unable to operate with any level of social distancing, concerts and festivals are unlikely to take place again in the UK until 2021 at the earliest. Many hundreds of redundancies have already been made, with the potential for tens of thousands to follow this year.

In the joint letter, the artists say: “UK live music has been one of the UK’s biggest social, cultural, and economic successes of the past decade. But, with no end to social distancing insight 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.

“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 world-leading industry.”

To coincide with the letter, hundreds of artists, venues, concerts, festivals, production companies and other people across the industry will today begin posting films and photos of their last live gig under the banner #LetTheMusicPlay. Fans will also be encouraged to post about the last gig they went to, all in a mass show of support for the UK’s world-leading live music industry during its shutdown.

By head of population, the UK is the second biggest live music market in the world. But, despite the global influence and economic importance of British live music, government support for the sector continues to lag behind other countries. The German government recently announced €150m in financial support for live music as part of a €50bn package of grants and loans for the cultural sector, and France has announced a further €50m to ‘build support plans’ for the live music industry.

Alongside my love of music and theatre is my love of Wolverhampton Wanderers. We now need to see the same energy and ambition that brought football back applied to live music and theatre because, if not, the impact on the industry is going to be devastating and some elements may never come back.

Beverley Knight
Beverley Knight

Data shows that the biggest economic impact from the live music shutdown is likely to be felt regionally, where concerts and festivals have been proven to bring huge benefits.

Because of the complex challenges the live music industry faces, it will be one of the last sectors to reopen. As other parts of the economy start to reopen, the live music industry is calling on the Government to provide vital sector-specific support.

I’m proud of the digital activities we have continued to deliver in these desperate times. Of course, our charitable output relies on income generated through our core business of live music entertainment and sustaining these impactful activities long-term is simply not possible. The recently published government guidelines provide no assurance. We urgently need a time-based plan for re-opening at full capacity and a financial support package in order for the thriving and exciting music scene in this city to survive.

Nick Reed, Town Hall Symphony Hall’s Chief Executive
Ltmp Square Video

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As a music charity, every day that Town Hall and Symphony Hall are closed puts the livelihood of musicians and artists, staff and suppliers in jeopardy. The current COVID-19 crisis will dramatically limit our ability to present the many learning, talent development and community engagement projects that form a vital part of our work and positively impact almost 20,000 young people and adults each year.