UK music venues and festivals face a ‘second consecutive year of silence’ – academic expert

A leading music industry academic has cautioned that UK music venues and festivals face a second consecutive year of silence unless Government adopts measures developed by the music industry to help the live sector return to business soon.

Speaking after the publication of UK Music’s Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report today and an ongoing DCMS select committee hearing evidence from live music bosses, Dr Matt Grimes – Course Leader in Music Industries at Birmingham City University – has welcomed recommendations to introduce indemnity schemes, extend VAT rate reduction on tickets and continue targeted financial support for the sector as a means of moving forward.

Dr Grimes said, “The British music community welcomes today’s publication by UK Music, of the Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report; an important milestone in the journey to ensure the live music sector gets back to business as soon as possible this year. Today’s announcement by the Chancellor, of further potential financial support for leisure businesses, is an additional positive step forward.”

Tens of thousands of music professionals have been working tirelessly throughout 2020 to make event spaces as safe as possible, including installing new ventilation and air purification systems in venues to reduce the risk of transmission; launching Covid testing pilot schemes, adapting performances and delivering audience experiences using various social distancing methodologies.

“There is still no clear indication or guidance from Government about when the live music sector will be allowed to hold events once again. If it is left too late festivals and events cannot commit time, money and resources into the forthcoming festival season because of uncertainty and lack of confidence in local and central Government.” Dr Matt Grimes

To help enable a return to live music, the Let The Music Play: Save Our Summer 2021 report clearly sets out a number of key calls for action which are:

  • An indicative date for a full capacity restart
  • A Government-backed indemnity scheme
  • Targeted financial support for the sector
  • Extension to the VAT rate reduction on tickets
  • Rollover of the paid 2020 Local Authority licence fees for festivals to 2021
  • Extension to business rates relief

Dr Gimes continued, saying, “With its pre-Covid contribution to the UK economy of £5.8 billion, the music industries can and must be at the forefront of a post-pandemic recovery, playing a leading role in stimulating the UK’s economic and cultural revival.”

“UK music venues and festivals now face the prospect of a second year of silence, unless the Government adopts and assists with the delivery of measures proposed by industry bodies to protect this key national asset.”