As the music industry finds itself stuck in a purgatory of a critical state and crisis; many who work in the industry are at their wits end as they struggle to receive the necessary emergency funding announced for the UK cultural sector.
Near the end of September, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a new Winter Economy Plan: as the furlough schemes come to an end, they are set to be replaced by the Jobs Support Scheme.
However, this was not well received by the music and nightlife industries, who criticized the scheme as not providing nearly enough funding for those working in the industry and venues across the country, with the UK government continuing to show little interest in assisting the sector in a genuinely sustainable fashion – as we saw last week, when Health MP Helen Whately spoke to Sky News blatantly sharing the overall disinterest in the sector financially:
The chancellor has adjusted and moved to the next phase. We know that COVID is going to be with us for months ahead, but it doesn’t make sense to continue supporting jobs where there simply isn’t work at the moment.
In a new development, parts of the UK’s planned Culture Recovery Fund have now been delayed, leaving workers, musicians and venues at risk – even more so than before.
The Music Venue Trust, who have been working tirelessly throughout the year in order to ensure the survival of grassroots venues, more so than ever during the financial crisis caused by COVID-19, shared an open letter as the furlough schemes were about to come to an end – on Twitter, to those in power.
Speaking directly to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and MP / Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden: you can read the open letter / Twitter thread from the MVT below.
2/ For the first time in twenty years, thanks to a combined effort by the sector itself, national government, local government, the music industry, artists, audiences, local communities and Music Venue Trust, 2019 was the first time since 2000 that the year finished with more…— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
4/ The planning framework had to be changed, working practices had to be changed, adjustments had to be made to rights collection fees and charges, business rate demands had to be adjusted.— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
6/ Everyone who played a role in that effort understood that grassroots music venues are vital to the health of our world beating music industry, to the communities they serve, and to the future development of British talent.— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
8/ These controls, demanded by the government to address perceived risk from Coronavirus, first of all shut the entire sector and now have slashed capacities by 75%, cut trading hours by 50 to 75%, limited performances and performers, and introduced significant additional…— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
10/ To describe Grassroots Music Venues, after all that effort and work by multiple agencies across several years, as inherently unviable businesses and the people who work in them as occupying inherently unviable jobs is, frankly, absurd.— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
12/ The government’s own published scientific data does not seem to support or justify this approach as an effective mechanism for managing the risk of infection.— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
14/ Assuming that the government has such data, making a specific connection between late night and/or cultural activity and infection, that it has chosen not to publish, or to provide privately to the sector, the same conclusion about the long and short term viability of…— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
16/ The government cannot simply shrug its shoulders at 900 grassroots music venues being permanently lost, over 200,000 jobs being permanently lost, and over £5billion in current and future economic activity that the country risks permanently losing because of the temporary…— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
18/ Music Venue Trust remains committed to working and acting together with the government to ensure that the long term viability of grassroots music venues, achieved by immense hard work in the last few years, returns after this temporary crisis.— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
20/ If we work together, we can Reopen Every Venue Safely.’ pic.twitter.com/WUUvgIZFDX— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) September 28, 2020
The Music Venue Trust have teamed up with Amazon UK to host a fundraiser for MVT’s #SaveOurVenues campaign; be sure to catch the fundraiser this Friday, October 9th:
Exciting news: @AmazonUK Music Team have organised this fundraiser for #saveourvenues this coming Friday. Live streamed sets from @LewisCapaldi @Celeste and @CateLeBon They will be performing from grassroots music venues in Scotland, England and Wales. Join us on Friday night! https://t.co/0UYblPQF4N— Music Venue Trust (@musicvenuetrust) October 5, 2020
MVT have also urged any venues who are struggling to reach out to them in this time of crisis.
Feature Image: Nikko Macaspac via Unsplash