Live music sector needs a 'restart date', the government is told

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The Cure on the Pyramid Stage

Concerts and festivals need government assistance to get “back on their feet,” says the music industry trade body UK Music.

It is calling on MPs to name a “restart date”, after which gigs can go ahead, following months of cancellations.

The body is also asking the government to introduce Covid cancellation insurance for live events, and to extend a VAT cut on concert tickets.

The government said it was working “flat out” to support the sector.

UK Music’s call to action came in a report called “Let the Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021,” which outlined a range of measures that could help the industry get back up and running.

It was published to coincide with an inquiry into the viability of festivals this summer, which launches in Parliament on Tuesday.

Organisers of the Parklife and Boomtown festivals, as well as UK Music CEO Jamie Njoku-Goodwinm are due to give evidence at the first session on Tuesday morning.

‘No certainty’

The UK live music industry was worth £1.3 billion in 2020 – but it has been hit particularly hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 90% of the gigs planned for 2020 cancelled.

Festival revenue dropped by 90.2% in 2020 with fears of redundancies for up to 50% of the workforce, according to the Association of Independent Festivals.

In a statement, UK Music said there was “no certainty” about when events will be able to restart in front of full capacity crowds and the sector needs to be able to “plan for the post-pandemic period and the peak summer season”.

It added that the lack of coronavirus insurance was the “biggest barrier” to events resuming; and called on the Government to introduce a scheme similar to one unveiled for the film and television industry in July, which compensates companies where costs are incurred due to projects being delayed or abandoned because of Covid-19.

UK Music chief executive Jamie Njoku-Goodwin said: “While this pandemic is still raging and continues to cause devastation to lives and livelihoods today, there is an endpoint in sight.

“Government is rolling out the vaccine and is openly speculating about returning to normal by the spring – but there is a serious risk that even if this proves to be a reality, lack of notice and available insurance options will mean much of the 2021 summer music season can’t go ahead.

“In this report, UK Music is putting forward a clear plan for recovery: what we need to do to get the live performance sector back up on its feet again in 2021.

“But the clock is ticking, and any day soon we could see major festivals and events start pulling the plug for lack of certainty.”

Responding to the report, a DCMS spokesperson said: “We know these are challenging times for the live events sector and are working flat out to support it.

“Our £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund has already seen more than £1 billion offered to arts, heritage and performance organisations to support them through the impact of the pandemic, protecting tens of thousands of creative jobs across the UK, including festivals such as Deer Shed Festival, End of the Road and Nozstock.”

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