MPs to debate perilous state of UK music scene ‘indefinitely on hold’

The Canary

MPs will highlight the plight of the UK’s coronavirus-ravaged music industry during a debate in Parliament.

Conservative MP Nickie Aiken, whose Cities of London and Westminster constituency includes a host of music venues, has secured the debate on Tuesday.

It comes as the industry steps up its calls for the Government to help the crippled sector. Industry body UK Music says the pandemic has wiped out at least £900 million of the £1.1 billion live music was expected to contribute to the economy in 2020.

Coronavirus
The pandemic has had a catastrophic impact on the UK’s live music scene, with London’s  O2 arena among the venues forced to temporarily close (Ian West/PA)

A recent post on social media set out how dire the current situation is for arts and entertainments:

I don’t know if the audience side really understands how dire the situation is for millions of hard-working professionals.

Broadway is closed until 2021, 6 West End venues THINK they can open at the moment. Cirque du Soleil is filing for bankruptcy and cut 3500+ jobs. Feld Entertainment laid off 90% of its workforce permanently. Live Nation had to lay off a significant amount of employees. Cruise ship entertainers are out of work.

Theme park productions have no idea when they will be recalled. There are no concerts, festivals or touring productions scheduled until 2021 and if they don’t happen next year, they may never happen again. No Jazz Fest, no Coachella, no Bonnaroo, no EDC, no Glastonbury, no Download, no ROLLING STONES FINAL TOUR(S), no ballet, no opera….all gone.

It’s being predicted that 90% of independent music venues may close, the longer this continues. No more 1st Ave, Whiskey-a-GoGo, no more Tipitina’s, no more Red Rocks, no more CroBar, all gone. Entertainment Management, Publicity, Live events coordinator, Performing arts organizations of all kinds- choirs, theatres, orchestras, dance companies- all are trying to figure out on a daily basis how to keep going and employ anyone they can in the field.
More than 12,000,000 people work entertainment production, they are not insignificant and this industry cannot reopen until mass gatherings can happen again. This doesn’t include the additional layoff of venue management and bar staff, security and thousands of vendors and subcontractors. Also, we shouldn’t forget about the hundreds of thousands of performers and entertainers that make these careers possible, without them, there is no show.
So when you see your entertainment friends begging you to wear masks and stay home, understand that we are helplessly watching our industry crumble before our eyes because the country is doing so poorly at reducing the spread. This IS personal for them, their entire livelihood is dependent on social gathering and should not be labeled “nonessential”.

Music and art are critical to a cheerful, balanced society.

Everyone’s career and the whole industry is indefinitely on hold. PLEASE wear your mask (over your mouth AND your nose) and wash your hands.

Gratefully copied. Feel free to do the same.
#SaveOurStages #SaveTheArts #artseducationmatters #WeMakeEvents

MPs are expected to use the debate to outline the perilous state of the music industry as well as the threat of closure hanging over venues.

Aiken said:

As neighbourhoods and local economies look to recover from the pandemic it is vital to consider the impact that theatres, music venues and other cultural attractions have on their communities, both in terms of supporting finances and other business by providing jobs and footfall, but also more widely in terms of community benefit and well-being.

Pre-Covid, the UK music industry contributed £5.2 billion a year to the economy, sustained 190,000 jobs and generated exports of £2.7 billion a year, according to figures compiled by UK Music.

The shutdown has been devastating for the industry, including for the 72% in the sector who are self-employed – many of whom are not eligible for financial support according to UK Music.

The body is calling for more assistance. Many music events cannot break even due to government restrictions on social distancing.

Among the measures UK Music is calling for is an extension of VAT and business rate reliefs, an extension to protection from eviction and for rent breaks for music spaces to be considered.

It is also urging ministers to support a Covid-19 insurance vehicle to give live performances cover against cancellation forced by the virus.

The Westminster Hall debate, titled The Contribution of Theatres, Live Music Venues and Other Cultural Attractions to the Local Economy, is scheduled to take place between 2.30pm and 4pm on Tuesday.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Gotenchaves

We need your help ...

The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.

Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.

We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.

Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?

The Canary Support us