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UK music industry calls for “urgent clarity” on impact of coronavirus on live events

(Image credit: Getty)

UK Music have asked for “urgent clarity” from the government on the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic on the live music scene.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday urged people to avoid going to pubs, clubs and theatres to halt the spread of COVID-19, but stopped short of an outright ban meaning insurers could avoid paying out on losses.

Johnson also indicated the government would stop supporting large gatherings by using emergency workers, leaving the entertainment sector reeling. 

UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl says: “Public safety remains the top priority for everyone involved in the UK music industry during this unprecedented health emergency.

“However, the Prime Minister’s latest advice on mass gatherings has resulted in huge uncertainty and confusion over what exactly it will mean for the music industry.

“We need urgent clarity from government about what exactly these new changes will mean. They must spell out whether there will be a formal ban, when that might come into effect, which venues and events will be impacted and how long the measures will remain in place.”

Kiehl says the spread of the virus is having a “catastrophic impact on the UK music industry and will threaten many jobs and businesses right across our sector.”

He adds: “As well as clarity, we need swift action from the government to mitigate the immense damage and disruption this will cause to our music industry that is the envy of the world.

“Unless music businesses and venues get help fast to get them though this desperately difficult period, the sad reality is the vital businesses and much loved venues will go to the wall.”

“UK Music will continue to speak to Government and will be working with our members to do all we can to press for help and work towards getting our industry back on its feet as quickly as possible.

Unless music businesses and venues get help fast, the sad reality is the vital businesses and much-loved venues will go to the wall

UK Music’s acting CEO Tom Kiehl

“We will continue to follow and support government advice on coronavirus and urge everyone to listen to medical and scientific advice.”

The live music industry has been rocked with the coronavirus pandemic, with shows, tours and festivals either postponed or cancelled due to the spread of the virus.

Latest figures from the Music Venue Trust show that grassroots music venues have reported a 27% downturn in attendances, while the Association Of Independent Festivals indicate that ticket sales for its members are down by 44% on average.

AIF CEO Paul Reed has echoed Kiehl's statement, saying: "The Prime Minister’s announcement amounts to a ban on live events and while we understand the measures taken, we also urge the government to classify it as such.

"The lack of such clarification creates widespread confusion and greatly harms promoters’ efforts to weather this unprecedented storm.

“Our members have already spent millions of pounds in non-recoupable costs and there is no safety net. We also call for immediate, decisive action to support these businesses and help minimise the lasting effects this crisis will have on the livelihoods of those working in the independent festival sector and beyond.”

Dave Webster, the national organiser of live performance at the Musicians’ Union, says that while the safety and welfare of members is of paramount importance and he understands the need to postpone events involving large numbers of people, "our members are now facing significant reductions in their income and we are deeply concerned about the impact on their finances, career prospects and mental health."

He adds: “We are calling on government to put in place measures to support our self-employed members while they are out of work through a combination of sick pay, benefits and income replacement."

The UK government are holding daily news conferences to keep the public informed about the fight against coronavirus.

Artists across the music world are suffering financially due to the mass postponement of concerts. Here are 10 ways to help your favourite artists.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on tour and show postponements and cancellations due to coronavirus on Louder’s dedicated hub page. This will be updated regularly with news as we get it.

The World Health Organisation have posted public advice in light of the spread of the virus which covers basic protective measures.

Scott Munro

News editor for Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. He’s been at the news desk since 2014 and when not writing, he can be found watching baseball and visiting whisky distilleries.